As a result of an inquiry by the National Advertising Division, celebrity endorsements of FitTea were revised to better disclose material connections.
The self-regulatory body reviewed advertising for the dietary supplement that featured endorsements on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media from Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner. Each of the celebrities failed to disclose when they were paid to endorse the product and did not disclose in any way their material connection to FitTea, the NAD said.
“When a social media post expresses a personal opinion about how much a poster likes a product or how frequently the poster uses a product, consumers might not understand whether the post is a paid endorsement or the post is spontaneous, without any payment or other compensation being exchanged,” the NAD wrote. “Consumers are likely to weigh an opinion differently if it is a paid endorsement for a product. As a result, such a payment is a connection that is material to consumers and should be disclosed.”
Citing the Federal Trade Commission Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials for support, the NAD used the agency’s examples for further elaboration. A celebrity discussing a medical procedure in a television interview and a tennis player touting the results of a surgery, mentioning the clinic where it was performed by name, both trigger the requirements of the Guides. In both hypotheticals, consumers might not realize that the celebrity or athlete was paid for sharing the information and because that information might affect the weight given to the endorsement, the relationships should be disclosed, the NAD said.
In response, FitTea informed the NAD that the advertiser’s social media posts were revised to disclose material connections with the endorsers and that, going forward, future advertising will adhere to the FTC’s Guides.
To read the NAD’s press release, click here.
Why it matters: Celebrity endorsements in the social media context will be a hot topic for advertisers in 2017. The FTC made its first significant efforts to enforce the Endorsements and Testimonials Guides last year, most notably in an action against Lord and Taylor. Consumer groups also jumped on the bandwagon, filing multiple complaints with the agency about social media influencers violating the Guides.