As we previously reported, the field of online influencer programs continues to attract the focus of the FTC which has aggressively investigated paid social media endorsement campaigns.
Recently, the FTC reached a settlement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. over charges of deceptive advertising in connection with alleged paid YouTube endorsements for a Warner Bros. video game.
Warner Bros. was charged with failing to adequately disclose to consumers that it had paid upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for positive gameplay videos on YouTube and social media for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, with YouTube stars like PewDiePie and other influencers being paid to promote the game.
Under the proposed settlement, Warner Bros. is prohibited from misrepresenting their paid advertising as the independent opinions and reviews of video game enthusiasts or influencers online. Further, it requires the company to expressly and conspicuously disclose any material connection between Warner Bros. and any influencer or endorser which promotes its products.
The proposed settlement also elaborates on the minimum measures that Warner Bros., or any entity it hires to conduct an influencer campaign, must take in order to ensure compliance of future campaigns with the terms of the settlement. These measures include, among other things, educating influencers concerning sponsorship disclosures, monitoring sponsored influencer videos for compliance, and under certain circumstances, terminating or suspending payment from influencers or ad agencies for non-compliance.