Thursday, June 10, 2010

Absolut disclosure and the FTC

Media lawyer Eric Robinson writes, regarding Absolut's invitation to Brooklyn bloggers:
There's apparently no mention in the e-mail of Federal Trade Commission guidelines requiring bloggers to disclose that they will receive products or services from Absolut for promoting the event. Under the guidelines, which can be the basis for FTC enforcement proceedings, and FTC's policies implementing them, this could mean trouble for the advertiser and its ad agency, and possibly for the bloggers who participated.

The FTC guidelines -- which I explain in detail here -- are complex, but fundamentally they require bloggers (and those who post on other social media, such as Twitter and Facebook) who receive a free or discounted product or service in exchange for writing a review to disclose the freebie or face the possibility of an FTC enforcement action.
I took a look myself at the FTC announcement:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.
Does the coverage of Absolut constitute an endorsement? Likely.

Is it a review? No.

Does this violate FTC rules? Can't say, but it's certainly questionable.

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