Until recently, social-media influencer marketing has looked a bit like the Wild West (with better teeth),@ but it looks like the sheriff is coming to town.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission fired another warning shot, with letters to a number of high-profile celebrities and social media stars reminding them of the rules for influencer marketing, particularly regarding disclosure of paid relationships.
The FTC sent letters to 52 influencers and marketers, including Sofia Vergara, Lindsay Lohan, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum, Victoria Beckham, Kourtney Kardashian, Jennifer Lope, and Sean Combs. The friendly reminder from the feds noted they must inform consumers they are being compensated for social-media posts paid for by brands, with clear and prominent disclosures.
That applies to both the influencers and the brands sponsoring them, which are supposed to help ensure posts include adequate disclosures.
The list of brands that received letters from the FTC includes Chanel, Dunkin’ Donuts, Johnson & Johnson, and Puma, among others.
In a letter to Adidas North America president Mark King, the FTC wrote: “The Endorsement Guides apply to marketers and endorsers. FTC staff guidance makes clear that marketers should advise endorsers of their disclosure responsibilities and should monitor their endorsements to ensure that appropriate disclosures are made.”
This is just the latest in a series of moves by the FTC signaling its interest in imposing greater transparency on influencer marketing.
Last month, the regulator sent letters to around 90 social-media influencers and their advertising partners, warning them to follow the rules on consumer disclosure and transparency, or risk legal sanctions and fines.In 2015, Kim Kardashian and drugmaker Duchesnay ran afoul of the FTC and FDA for failing to disclose the social media star was being paid to promote Diclegis, a morning sickness drug.
Also last year, the FTC called out Warner Bros. for a social-media influencer campaign that did not clearly disclose the fact influencers were being paid to promote its "Lord of the Rings" video game, “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.”