The Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into concerns that social media stars are not properly declaring when they have been paid, or otherwise rewarded, to endorse goods or services.
The ASA has for many years said that social media stars who are paid by brands to promote goods should be transparent about this relationship; for example, by including #Ad in any social media posts. However, the CMA’s investigation reflects concerns that, notwithstanding these rules, the general public are being misled by social media stars who misleadingly present paid-for messaging as their own independent opinion.
If the CMA’s investigation finds this is a widespread issue we can expect the CMA to take significant enforcement action and issue guidance in this area in much the same way as it did when it investigated online reviews in 2016/17.
In the interim, the Committee of Advertising Practice has released an ‘Influencer’s Guide’ in collaboration with the CMA and the ASA, which serves as a good guide for current best practice. Practices should be kept under review as the CMA investigation develops.