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FTC Reminds Celebrity Social Media ‘Influencers’ about Brand Endorsement Rules


The Federal Trade Commission has issued letters warning big-name celebrities about the laws and guidelines that regulate how they promote products via their respective social media accounts.

The agency sent nearly 90 letters in March to individuals and brands asking that they more “clearly and conspicuously” identify business relationships when endorsing or promoting products on their popular social media accounts.

The FTC’s warnings come after several models, including Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Baldwin, were paid to plug and star in a promotional video for the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas that turned out to be a $100 million lawsuit-inducing disaster.

The letters, intended to remind prominent celebrity social media “influencers” about the law, were sent to 52 individuals, including actors and musicians like Sofia Vergara, Lindsay Lohan, Sophia Bush, Zendaya Coleman, Jennifer Lopez, Luke Bryan, and Sean Combs.

“The FTC’s Endorsement Guides state that if there is a ‘material connection’ between an endorser and the marketer of a product – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless the connection is already clear from the context of the communication containing the endorsement,” read an FTC letter sent to Mark King, President of Adidas Group North America.

“The Endorsement Guides apply to marketers and endorsers. FTC staff guidance makes clear that marketers should advise endorsers of their disclosure responsibilities and should monitor their endorsements to ensure that appropriate disclosures are made,” the letter continues.

Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum, and Victoria Beckham also received the FTC letter, as did reality TV stars Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick.

Brands, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Puma, Chanel, Johnson & Johnson, and Beluga Vodka also received letters from the FTC.

Lopez, for example, received an FTC letter after she posted a photo to her Instagram of herself in front “several bottles of Beluga vodka” with the caption, “Birthday weekend in Vegas!! Thanks again @vodkabeluga #vodkabeluga.”

Lopez has 64 million Instagram followers.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @jeromeehudson