UK Watchdog Sinks its Teeth into Celebrity Twitter Endorsements
Get ready for some shocking news. Celebrities are hawking products for money and some of them are not providing full disclosures as required by the FTC. That means when Snoop Dogg gave a shoutout to the Sienna Minivan, it wasn’t because he liked the car, it’s because he got paid to do it!
I’ve rocked your world, I know. Take a minute. I understand. I’m sure at least half of you went out and bought that car because Snoop Dogg said it was cool and now you’re feeling scammed.
Fear not, the OFT is on your side, if you live in the UK, that is. The Office of Fair Trading is a UK consumer protection agency and they’re taking this celebrity endorsement issue seriously. An article in this weekend’s The Guardian, says that the OFT has already filed suit against a PR company that sells promotional blog posts and celeb Twitterers may be next.
Here in the US, the FTC requires the word “ad” or “spon” at the end of a Tweet to show that it’s been bought and paid for. The UK doesn’t have any such requirement so it doesn’t seem like the OFT has much of legal leg to stand on.
I understand the government’s interest in protecting the public, but isn’t this really a case where the public can protect themselves? For example, check out the Tweet on this post. It’s from Elizabeth Hurley who is a spokesmodel for Estee Lauder. Even if you didn’t know that, would you actually believe that she crafted that Tweet simply for the love of the product? Even without “ad” at the end, it reads like a piece of ad copy.
Here in Hollywood, stars are routinely given expensive shoes, jewelry and clothing with the hope that they’ll wear the items in front of the paparazzi. If Beyonce walks the red carpet wearing $600 Stuart Weitzman boots she got for free, how is that any different than a Tweet saying how fab the boots are?
I can see it now, stars walking the line with a sign that says “ad” on their backs.
The bottom line is this, with all of the scammers and thieves out there on the internet, do we really need the government to protect us from celebrities who Tweet for cash? I say no.
What do you think?