Digital Disclosure: Factoring the Law into your Branding Strategy

On the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website, it says “Protecting American Consumers.” This agency was created over a century ago to fostering competitive prices for high-quality goods or services. It may be fair to say that many marketing professional are mainly focused on company/client-centered goals, sometimes without clearing certain tactics with their company’s legal department. Thus in the digital age, sponsored mobile posts have become a lucrative business up until recently with little involvement from the FTC.

Unintentionally, the following examples references the Kardashian-Jennifer clan for sponsored posts. You can’t knock the amazing hustle and bustle from this family!

On one particular episode of her reality show, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, Kris Jenner asked her daughters Kim and Khloe to not only do another post on Hairfinity, but fly out to London for a premiere. This made me pause because the middle Kardashian sister spoke to Adweek in 2015 stating her Instagram account was “promo-free” telling the magazine, “I know a lot of my brands might get frustrated that I don’t promote maybe as much as they would like, but I only do it if it’s authentic.”

What does this mean? If celebrities are already the “face” of a brand, should they have to disclose each post with a #spon or #ad tag?

Recently Kim’s sister, Kourtney, has promoted her Instagram with Fit Tea posts.  Many celebrities and influencers have done posts for the Fit Tea brand.  This brand may not feature Kourtney as their “face” but Kourtney made sure this post was clearly stated it was a paid post.  Many other influencers probably are now probably becoming  more familiar with guidelines to sponsored posts. Kylie Jennifer, sister of Kourtney and Kim, also posted about Fit Tea back in April, without tagging it as an ad while Kourtney’s recent July post about the brand included the ad tag.

Kourtney’s Kardashian famous ex-boyfriend/father to her three children, Scott Disick was in the news earlier this year for reportedly copying and pasting an entire email from a sponsor, Boo Tea UK, on exactly what to say in his Instagram post, without deleting the directions on what to post from the sponsor:

Scott Disick gaff
Image courtesy of Instagram via Buzzfeed

In the digital world, this is a BIG deal as it shows the secret exchanges behind this promotional posts.  It would appear that celebrities don’t have to do anything but simply post to social media.  It would appear there is no requirement of some influencers to even be a user of the brand.  Would this change the view of the people they are trying to “influence”?

Going back Kim’s Adweek interview, it seems now as if Kim is more actively involved with her posts to be more organic to her audience compared to Disicks’s disregarded fluke of a post on how to type a genuine Instagram promotion to his following.  Disicks’s mishap is also not a good look on Boo Tea UK’s part either.  It shows little regard from the brand about having the influencer being true advocates for their product, they are only a means of advertisement.   There is also little regard from the influencer on if they make a mistake as they’re rich they can make mistakes and “hope” no one remembers them.  Not anymore as only one simple internet search can reveal a life’s timeline.

Influencers receive so many views a day that they can leverage their profiles, or ad space with “product placements” a.k.a sponsored ads. Them doing so requires the influencer to notify their following visibility in doing so unlike actual product placements where there is a process to get a product featured on a television show or movie. This also leverages competition and informs the viewers that while influencers may post about certain brands, they are paid to do so that the public can use their judgment whether or not to purchase the product. Seems pretty fair in case an audit is done on both the brand and the influencer.

As always with changing times comes changing/new laws however we follow people based on how we like them/their content they publish for the world to see. Do you think sponsored ads would change how you’re influenced by your favorite celebrities? What could sponsored ads say about an influencer’s brand?

Here is a little digital disclosure for all of my readers: Today marks 6 months since I’ve given birth! It has truly been an amazing experience thus far, watching my baby girl grow every single day. Mommy loves you Courtney!