Ad Watchdog Piles On Kardashians For Deceptive Marketing

The pushback against deceptive influencer marketing has begun, prompted in many cases by what consumer advocates say are inadequate disclosures that posts are paid promotions.

In the latest development, the advertising watchdog Truth In Advertising Inc., better known by its Web acronym, has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission concerning numerous posts by the various members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

According to the nonprofit, an investigation of the clan’s Instagram accounts revealed over 100 posts that violated the FTC’s rules governing consumer-marketing disclosures. They failed to state they were being compensated by the companies.

Offending posts were found on the Instagram accounts of Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner. noted that the celebrities would merely have to include a simple disclosure like “AD:” or “#ad” to comply with FTC regulation, but they didn’t even meet this low standard.

The watchdog sent letters to the relevant members of the Kardashian-Jenner family, as well as the companies paying them for the promotions, warned it would take the complaint to the FTC if they failed to include the disclosures. Although some posts were fixed, most remained unchanged when sent the letter to the FTC.

Influencer marketing has been coming under scrutiny for inadequate, or nonexistent, disclosures.

Last year, Kim Kardashian and drugmaker Duchesnay ran afoul of the FTC and FDA for failing to disclose that the social media star was being paid to promote Diclegis, a morning sickness drug.

In July, the FTC called out Warner Bros. for a social-media influencer campaign that didn’t clearly disclose the fact that the influencers were being paid to promote its "Lord of the Rings" video game, “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.” As part of a settlement with the company, the FTC is demanding that Warner Bros. implement an internal-compliance system and ensure that influencer partners are also aware of the rules regarding disclosure.

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