FTC, Bloggers, and Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission is continuing to pursue bloggers who fail to disclose that they received incentives to discuss a company’s products. Back in December, the Federal Trade Commission released new guidelines that specifically required bloggers to disclose any material connections to a product or company they are writing about. The FTC is focusing its efforts on the company.

The latest company snared in the failure to disclose is Hyundai. The FTC took a close look at a promotion in which bloggers were given gift certificates as an incentive to include links to Hyundai videos in their posts or to comment on Hyundai’s Super Bowl ads. One focus was whether the bloggers were told to disclose or were told not to disclose that they had received compensation.

It seems Hyundai’s first defense was that it wasn’t their fault, but he fault of their advertising agency. The FTC won’t take that defense and pointed out that advertisers are legally responsible for the actions working directly or indirectly for them.

What saved Hyundai is that their established social media policy calls for bloggers to disclose the receipt of compensation. What saved Hyundai’s advertising agency was that their established social media policy calls for bloggers to disclose the receipt of compensation.

By having the policies in place, Hyundai and the advertising agency were able to establish that the bad actions were those of rogue employee operating outside the established policies of the firms. That’s compliance in action.

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