Competition and Markets Authority publishes guidance for influencers on social media endorsements

The CMA says that 16 influencers (bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and social media personalities) have provided undertakings to improve disclosures in their social media posts to make it clear when they have been paid or otherwise incentivised to endorse a product or service.

The CMA says that audiences need to know when an influencer has been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to endorse, promote, or review a product or service, including whether a product or service was given or loaned to them for free.

The undertakings follow an investigation by the CMA into concerns that certain influencers were not clearly disclosing when they had been paid or incentivised to promote goods or services.

The CMA has also published guidance for influencers to ensure that they are aware of consumer protection law. The guide is also relevant to brands, marketing agents, intermediaries and all involved in the supply chain.

The guidance advises influencers to:

  • say when they have been paid, given or loaned things: any form of reward, including money, gifts of services or products, or the loan of a product, is “payment” and must be declared as such;
  • be clear about their relationship with a brand or business: including discount codes, competitions or giveaways, or references to their own range of products, is not necessarily enough to make the relationship clear. Influencers need to be transparent and state that the post is a promotion. The same is true of past relationships with a brand or business from within the last year.
  • not be misleading: influencers must not give the impression that: i) they are just a consumer when they are actually acting for their own business purposes or on behalf of a brand or other business; ii) they have bought something when it was in fact a gift or on loan; iii) they have used the service or product themself, if they have not;
  • be honest about what they are promoting: the law is not prescriptive about how to declare relationships with brands, especially as social media continues to change and evolve. However, if influencers have received or been promised any form of payment or other incentive, this should be clearly stated in a way which is: i) transparent, easy to understand, unambiguous, timely and prominent; and ii) apparent without the need for people to click for more information, no matter what type of device they are using to view the post. In other words, disclosure should be made upfront.

The guidance also gives examples of practices the CMA has seen which it considers do not go far enough to comply with the legal requirements.

The CMA is now considering the role that platforms may play. To access the guidance, click here.