Bulletin: planning your next social media campaign? be sure the federal trade commission doesn’t get on your case.


great idea, but unfortunately against the law… “paying influencers to promote your product (on social media, instagram, etc) without disclosure of such to the public can be considered a breach of federal trade commission guidelines.” case: lord and taylor vs federal trade commission…” in the heat of today’s social-media-frenzy, it is important to understand what laws apply, at least in the US market. this nugget was shared with us by our legal advisors during a recent project, and once again confirms that while many things appear simple, doing them… right requires a seasoned creative digital agency with a meticulous knack for detail, and that includes legal details.

“in its complaint filed, the FTC focused on lord & taylor’s social media campaign launched in support of its private label clothing line, design lab. as part of the campaign, the retailer recruited fifty “fashion influencers,” gave them the design lab paisley asymmetrical dress, and paid them to post a photo of themselves wearing the design lab dress on instagram. lord & taylor did not require the influencers to disclose that they had been paid (and no influencer voluntarily did so). the design lab Instagram campaign reached 11.4 million individual instagram users, and the paisley asymmetrical dress subsequently sold out. the campaign also included a paid article placed in the fashion publication nylon, and photo of the paisley asymmetrical dress posted to nylon’s instagram page; neither the article nor instagram post disclosed that it had been pre-approved and paid for by lord & taylor. lord & taylor was forced to settle the claim, something no company wishes to do or be involved in.

the takeaway: to avoid similar allegations of unfair or deceptive trade practices. businesses should ensure that paid advertising is clearly labeled as such. should an industry influencer be hired to provide an endorsement, such fact should also be clearly disclosed. for instance, businesses should consider adding the terms “advertisement,” “paid advertisement,” or “sponsored advertising content” to an instagram post, or, with respect to condensed posts like those appearing on twitter, use “#ad” or “#spon.” merely incorporating a business’s hashtag or social media handle does not communicate this message with sufficient clarity.” – CDAS