Blog: Lucy BritnerUnder the influencers - regulators crack down on sponsored social media

Lucy Britner | 8 August 2016

Drinks companies that use celebrities and influencers to endorse products via social media could be in line for some rule changes.

The US Federal Trade Commission has been widely quoted as saying it wants to clamp down on unclear promotions on social media such as Instagram and Snapchat.

That means a hashtag such as #sp might not be enough to indicate sponsorship - especially if they are mingled in with several other hashtags.

"We've been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing," Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC's Ad Practices Division has been quoted as saying. "We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived."

FTC charges have already been settled in the entertainment industry as well as in the fashion world.

Meanwhile in the UK, soft drinks firm Britvic found itself in hot water last year with the Advertising Standard Authority. The regulator upheld a complaint that questioned whether a celebrity-endorsed Instagram activation was "obviously identifiable" as an advert.

It looks like regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are really getting a handle on social media. Probably just in time for whatever the next phenomenon will be.

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