Everyone’s favorite Jedi accused of unclear advertising disclosure

The Dark Side?

Luke Skywalker, say it isn’t so!

You were our champion, our space-age Galahad. Idealistic, daring, pure of heart – you were that rare character who was as decent as he was strong. Are you really trying to use Jedi mind tricks to sell merch?

Fan Disservice?

That’s the accusation leveled by Truth in Advertising Inc., which claims that Skywalker’s Hollywood avatar, Mark Hamill, took so long to disclose that a recent Instagram post was an ad that the post fell afoul of the Federal Trade Commission’s guides regarding the use of endorsements in marketing.

On Dec. 15, 2017, Hamill, who dons the Skywalker mien in “The Last Jedi,” the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, posted on Instagram a picture of himself wearing new RealD 3D glasses. Halfway through the caption to the picture, he pushes the new Star Wars vehicle and other projects, but the post ends with an aside: “(Btw-I consider this more of an artistic statement rather than just another shameless #ad.) 😜-mh.”

Even though Hamill eventually admitted that the picture is an advertisement, the final lines of the caption are not visible on mobile devices, according to Truth in Advertising. This cutoff conceals the connection with RealD, the manufacturer of the glasses (whose own Instagram page features the same photograph).

The Takeaway

The FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising state that any “material connection” that would affect the impartiality of an endorsement needs to be “clearly and conspicuously” disclosed in the ad. Hamill’s post, according to the watchdog group, falls short (at least on certain platforms).

Hamill joins an illustrious roster of celebrity endorsers – including Olivia Munn, Tom Brady, Neil Patrick Harris and, yes, Donald Trump – whose endorsements have been scrutinized in Truth in Advertising’s “Ad or Not?” website feature.