The Influencer Marketing Steering Committee of Advertising Standards recently published Disclosure Guidelines for social media earlier this year. The guidance document illustrates various influencer marketing do’s and don’ts as per industry best practices and accountability to the consumer. Disclosures are meant to provide transparency and honesty of all viewers of the sponsored post.
If your band or product uses influencer marketing practices such as blogs (and microblogs), social media networks (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and/or video content, then these guidelines apply to you. As social media platforms are constantly changing, the principles of being clear, conspicuous, and broadly understood should be applied to new and emerging platforms.
Disclosing an influencer for a brand is important for a few reasons. Firstly, influencer partnerships must be disclosed publically in order to be in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Secondly, it helps establish trust with the viewer to demonstrate truthful, fair and accurate advertising. In this second point, the viewer’s perception of the content is changed when a material connection is disclosed. These guidelines don’t override the regulatory requirement but can be considered to ensure that your influencer marketing is truthful, fair and provides accurate content.
The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that ensures Canadian businesses and consumer prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. The federal bureau enforces laws for deceptive marketing practices, under the Competition Act on advertising in Canada. The American counterpart is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Ad Standards is a self-regulatory body for advertising in Canada, which oversees the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, also referred to as The Code. Under The Code, discloser of material connection is required. In addition to Ad Standards requirements, the Competition Bureau also has published its viewpoint on influencer marketing in their The Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest (Volume 4).
Overall, the Do’s and Don’ts encompass an overall message for influencer marketing disclosers: ensure the material connection of the brand/product with the influencer is communicated with upfront transparency and honesty. When in doubt, spell it out!
For more assistance in assessing regulatory compliance of your influencer marketing disclosers and/or advertising materials for health or cosmetic products/brands, contact us for more information on how we can help you.