Just when it seemed like things were getting quiet with the FTC regarding disclosure and I was thinking that the new administration didn’t care so much about it, a new settlement was announced today regarding commercial endorsements. (If you want to see all of my research and updates on FTC disclosure, this post tracks them: Affiliates Take Note: New FTC Disclosure Guidelines)
The basic facts are that PR firm Creaxion Corporation paid two gold medal Olympians (Carly Patterson Caldwell and Jake Dalton) to promote a mosquito repellent on their social media during the 2016 Olympics (back during the Zika virus outbreak). They also partnered with Inside Gymnastics magazine to get endorsers and promote the product. The PR firm “drafted, reviewed and monitored” social media posts and advertorials made by the endorsers, and the magazine often reposted the endorsements on its own social media.
The allegations that apply to us most as influencers or affiliate marketers were that 1) the endorsements were not “independent experiences or opinions of impartial users” because they were part of an ad campaign, and 2) the endorsers “failed to disclose, or disclose adequately” that they were being paid for their endorsements.
Here is an example from the appendices that is particularly interesting to me:
It says “Made it back to the US! Thanks fitorganicusa for protecting me during my trip in Rio!!” The FTC is reiterating that “thanking” the company isn’t enough of a disclosure because it doesn’t indicate clearly that you are being paid. Recall that they did