FTC cracks down on celeb-backed social media ads

Last week, Kim Kardashian posted an ad on Instagram. Violating news? Not at all. But whats unusual is if you look closely, youll notice it builds on a previous post promoting the morning sickness medication Diclegis. When she first posted about the medication in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration( FDA) came as her because it didnt mention the associated hazards. Kardashian apparently learned her lesson, and this time around she listed the side effects and added #ad to the first line.


Thats exactly what the Federal Trade Commission( FTC) is pushing for. Earlier this month, it sent more than 90 influencers, celebrities, jocks and marketers a refresher on the rules of what they can and cannot do when promoting products on social media. Basically, influencers are obligated to be transparent about any business or household connects, whether theyre being paid to promote the product and if they were given the product for free.

In the letter sent to these influencers, the FTC said the posts must be labeled as ads within the first three lines of the caption and need to be more clear than simply labelling #sp or #partner or slipping the necessary hashtags in at the end of a long caption where they easily get lost.


From an advertisers perspective, theres a big upside to working with influencers. Millennials are actively engaged on social media on a daily basis, and its a great way to reach thousands of potential patrons, Samantha Wormser, a public relations administrator at Power Digital Marketing, told Fox News. Plus, its easy. It takes less time to publish a tweet or Instagram Story than it does to kill a commercial, Dee Nuncio, administrator of social media for Mod Op, told Fox News. And, since fans usually react to social media posts instantly, advertisers get real-time feedback. The influencers get a lot out of it, too. Celebrities with millions of adherents can charge upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars for one social post, Wormser said.

The Kardashian clan is notorious for sneakily weaving paid posts into their feeds, but theyre not the only ones. Michael Phelps has posted ambiguously about Thumps by Dre, Bella Hadid recently plugged Postmates in a post thats since been deleted, and Jenny McCarthys feed is filled with ads promoting everything from hair extensions to jewelry.

Even if the celebs are upfront about the ad, its important for consumers to see the posts for what they are: paid endorsements rather than authentic recommendations. The difficulty with promoting many of these products is that false asserts are made or exaggerated, and people are taken advantage of because they have not determined the evidence of such asserts, Kim Melton, RD, told Fox News. She said to be especially skeptical of supplements because theyre not regulated by the FDA and can lead to liver injury among other health issues.

Watch out for posts with words like miracle, life changing, fast and guaranteed, Tracy Lockwood, RD, founder of Tracy Lockwood Nutrition, told Fox News. Be questionable if the product seems too good to be true or use strong and exaggerated adjectives when describing the product.

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