There was a time, back around the Kennedy administration, when the term “pinned” meant that a guy and a gal were “going steady.” For additional information, see this sequence from the film version of “Bye Bye Birdie.” So the guy would attach his pin (probably from a fraternity) on his best girl’s sweater, and next thing you knew, they had an exclusive dating relationship. Not exactly the same thing as “hooking up.”
But these are different times. Now, “pin” is what a Pinterest user does. So a user “pins” content to the Pinterest site, which means the public can browse that content, which often consists of photos. And that is on my mind today because of a recent FTC letter ruling finding that the Cole Haan shoe company’s “Wandering Sole” contest on Pinterest may have violated the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on endorsements.
Here’s how the FTC described the contest:
The contest rules instructed contestants to create Pinterest boards titled "Wandering Sole." The contest rules further required that a board include five shoe images from Cole Haan's Wandering Sole Pinterest Board as well as five images of the contestants' "favorite places to wander." Finally, contestants were instructed to use "#WanderingSole" in each pin description. Cole Haan promised to award a $1,000 shopping spree to the contestant with the most creative entry.
Sounds innocent enough. So why does the FTC care? Because the aforementioned (I like to throw in a lawyer word occasionally) endorsement guidelines require “disclosure of a material connection between a marketer and an endorser when their relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication that contains the endorsement.” The highlighted words are courtesy of the FTC. And all it means is that if I’m posting content touting a product and being compensated for it, I need to let readers know that fact. [Editor’s note – I have never endorsed a product on this blog for compensation. But I’m open to offers. Call me.]
In the FTC’s view, the prospect of being compensated is apparently sufficient to trigger the need to disclose the deal. Keep that in mind if you are planning a contest on social media. And that is indeed the “story, morning glory.”