New standards for Social Media Influencers
Cathrine Ripley, head of the Commercial and Technology/IP department reviews the CMA’s new guidance on celebrities and other social media influencers’ obligation of transparency when endorsing a product or service.
Following the publication of the Competition & Market Authority’s (CMA) guidance on 23 January 2019, many celebrities and social media personalities (also referred as ‘influencers’) have pledged to be more transparent about their endorsement deals and clearly disclose when they have been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to recommend a particular product or service online.
So, what are these influencers expected to do differently?
When promoting a product or a service, they are expected to:
- clearly state when they have been paid, given or loaned things (even where they have not requested the gift or the loan). Any form of reward should be disclosed to the audience;
- be clear about their relationship with a particular brand or business. This would also include past relationships;
- Not be misleading as to the nature of the promotion or endorsement post (must not be misleading as to whether the influencer is acting on behalf of the brand, whether the product/service was bought, loaned or given and whether the influencer has used it him/herself).
These goals may be achieved by making any posts ‘transparent, easy to understand, timely, prominent and unambiguous’ as to the relationship between the influencer and a particular brand or business.
Some influencers have criticised this new approach as being unfair and short sided. Indeed, magazines or newspapers that feature “must have products” are not submitted to the same rules and consumers cannot know whether a particular magazine has been paid to promote a particular product or service.
If they fail to comply, influencers may be breaking consumer protection law, and could face enforcement action from the CMA.