Last month, a popular Instagram influencer gave everyone a candid glimpse of his paid product endorsement activities by accidentally posting the seller’s instructions in his photo caption.
What can social media influencers learn from his mistake?
Scott Disick’s Instagram Account
Scott “Lord” Disick is a TV personality best known for his relationship with reality star Kourtney Kardashian. Disick’s Instagram account has amassed over 16.5 million followers, which has enticed a variety of sellers and marketers to partner with him to leverage that popularity with paid product endorsements. According to one report, Disick charges $15,000-$20,000 per Instagram endorsement.
Product Endorsement Gone Awry
Last month, Disick posted a photo of himself posing in a kitchen with a large tub of Eighty Twenty Ventures Ltd.’s cleverly named “Bootea Shake” protein shake product. Disick’s post included the following product endorsement: “Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”
Unfortunately for Disick, he also posted the seller’s instructions by accident (“Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below caption:”). Once the mistake was identified, the photo’s caption was quickly edited to read as follows: “Getting my summer routine on with my morning @booteauk protein shake! #ad”
Make Sure Your Product Endorsements Are Compliant
As we have previously reported, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has established Endorsement Guidelines and related guidance governing how sellers and marketers may solicit – and social media influencers may provide – product endorsements.
Under the Guidelines, Instagram and other social media influencers are generally required to disclose their advertising relationships, including when the influencers receive free products and/or compensation in exchange for endorsements, testimonials or reviews. Further, a number of social media platforms require influencers to make additional, platform-specific disclosures. Please note that product endorsements disclosure language should be carefully tailored to the applicable product, platform and compensation structure in question.
To avoid the risk of serious legal consequences, sellers and marketers should ensure that their marketing practices (as well as the endorsement practices of their social media influencers) comply with applicable laws and regulations. By way of example, just this March, the FTC reached a settlement with luxury manufacturer/retailer Lord & Taylor, LLC over charges of deceptive advertising in connection with allegedly non-compliant Instagram product endorsements.