With Christmas on the horizon, a lot of brands will be sending gifts to Influencers in the hope of a positive blog or a share with their followers. We recently conducted a survey of marketers to find out if brands that use celebrities and influencers know what the law means for influencer marketing. Find out what we discovered.
Earlier this year the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) carried out investigations into whether and how celebrities such as Alexa Chung, Michelle Keegan, Rita Ora and Megan McKenna disclosed when they had been incentivised to endorse a product or service on social media. As a result, they secured formal commitments from 16 celebrities that they would make it clear if they had been paid or received gifts or loans of any products and services that they endorsed, also, warning letters were sent to several other celebrities. A lack of transparency about advertising could be a breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the CAP Code as it risks misleading the consumer. Consequently the CMA published a guide to social media endorsements and their advice is very clear; “You should be able to tell as soon as you look at a post if there is some form of payment or reward involved, so you can decide whether something is really worth spending your hard-earned money on” is how Andrea Coscelli, the Chief Executive of the CMA summed it up.
As experts in marketing compliance, we have run a couple of Breakfast Briefings on Influencer marketing, in conjunction with the CMA, as a way of educating marketers about running social media campaigns right. But we still wanted to measure the awareness of brands and agencies, so we conducted a survey of over 130 marketing professionals, people just like you, seeking to assess their knowledge of the rules relating to influencer marketing.
The good news is that most marketers do know the rules. Almost 80% of those surveyed are aware that influencers and brands are jointly responsible for making sure their posts are accurate and compliant. And 72% also know that if an influencer receives a freebie, even if there are no apparent strings attached, they must still clearly and prominently disclose that the post is in effect an advertisement. A huge 87% of respondents also knew that disclosure is required for the gifting or loan of a product or service, as well as travel and trips.
However, marketers are less clear about what to do when a relationship has ended between a brand and an influencer. For instance, if a celebrity, as a result of a broader sponsorship deal, was gifted a car, but the deal has now ended, do they still need to disclose this if they talk about the car in a post? Almost 40% of respondents said they wouldn’t have to, but the CMA has advised that relationships within the last year are likely to be relevant to followers, and should be declared. If influencers don’t make clear recent commercial arrangements, they could be misleading people.
Another area which marketers are less clear about is where the influencer should position the disclosure that their post is an advert. Almost 30% of respondents believe that the Ad tag can simply be on the influencer’s profile page or hidden in a list of hashtags. In fact, it needs to be displayed first and prominently in a post.
What the CMA want to communicate most is that whilst influencers can choose their disclosure wording, it must be clear, unambiguous and the first thing audiences see so that there can be no doubt when a post is, in fact, advertisement.
If you want to find out more about the rules for influencers and social media endorsements, and what clear and prominent disclosure really looks like, join us at our next complimentary Breakfast Briefing on 15th January 2020. We will be joined by one of the CMA’s Legal Directors who will talk us through their guidance and answer questions.
To get in touch contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 325 6000.