Who: US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Where: United States
When: November 2019
The FTC has published guidance on how influencers can achieve transparency in their social media posts and the disclosures that should be used.
The FTC’s latest publication is short-form guidance, which provides a brief overview of the essential aspects of disclosers in influencer advertising to ensure that any endorsement is clearly identifiable as such. This guidance is applicable also to influencer ads that originate outside of the US, if it is reasonably foreseeable that US consumers may be impacted by what they see. The guidance is in addition to and should be read in conjunction with the FTC’s full-endorsement guidance available to advertisers and influencers.
- Disclose any brand connection: financial, personal, employment or family relationship, including where payment is made in free or discounted products. Don’t assume followers or viewers know of the connection.
- Let it be seen in full: make sure that followers and viewers don’t have to search for a disclaimer.
- picture – superimpose the disclosure over the picture;
- video – include the disclosure in both visual and voice overs;
- live stream – repeat the disclosure periodically for anyone joining late or seeing only part of the stream.
- Be clear, be understood: use terms such as “advertisement“, “ad” and “sponsored” where there is space or “[Brand]Partner” and “[Brand]Ambassador” where limited space is available.
- Don’t use confusing terms or abbreviated terms such as “sp“, “spon” or “collab“.
- Don’t include endorsements of a product that the influencer has not tested.
- Don’t make false endorsements of a product; if the influencer does not agree with an endorsement, don’t state it.
- Don’t make claims that require specific proof if the brand does not have such proof; for example, making a scientific claims that can’t be substantiated by the brand.
Why this matters:
The guidance provides influencers with a quick-use guide on the essential questions to consumer-proof their disclaimer wordings for US consumers. While not directly applicable to the UK, the guide provides a holistic overview of the main disclaimer pitfalls for influencers, which are also applicable to the UK. Specifically the guidance on disclaimers for ads using different mediums of communication, including live streams, can be considered a helpful indicator tool for new influencers on what issues to consider for their marketing activities.