When Kim Kardashian starred in a Sketchers Super Bowl ad in 2011, no one was wondering whether or not she was paid for the spot.
It's less clear when Kardashian posts a TwitPic of herself rubbing EOS balm on her "pregnancy lips" to 17.9 million followers.
Does Kardashian just like the lip balm or was she paid what the Huffington Post estimates as $20,000 for the exposure?
Probably the latter, even though there's no indication in the tweet that it's a sponsored message.
And according to the New York Times, the Federal Trade Commission is sick of sneaky, undisclosed, social media celebrity endorsements.
“In a traditional ad with a celebrity, everyone assumes that they are being paid,” FTC associate director of the advertising practices division Mary K. Engle told the NYT. “When it’s not obvious that it is an ad, people should disclose that they are being paid.”
And celebrities and brands might start getting in trouble for leaving out disclosures.
The FTC issued a new set of guidelines on social media advertising disclosures in March for the first time in 13 years.
It wanted Twitter endorsements to use the #ad hashtag (#spon is apparently too confusing) and squeeze words like "typically" or "about" into the 140 character tweet to avoid misleading promises.
The FTC also thinks celebs need to add the disclosure to every related tweet and not just one at the end, in case followers miss the final post.
But that was in March. Since then, Miley Cyrus tweeted this to her 12 million fans sans disclosure:
BlackJet told the NYT that Cyrus “was given some consideration for her tweet."
And while Justin Bieber just might like 1-800 Flowers, he tweeted this suspicious message to his 40 million followers:
It was retweeted more than 75,000 times.
Although comedian Michael Ian Black didn't disclose that this was a sponsored tweet:
Followers quickly noticed and Black admitted that he was paid "thousands of dollars to run it."
He then turned his endorsement tweet into Dos Equis' worst nightmare:
In a nutshell, celebrities haven't heeded the FTC's new guidelines. So should they be worried?
The NYT reports, " The F.T.C. declined to comment on any particular instances where celebrities have posted about companies with which they have financial relationships. The agency did say there are “open investigations” into companies that have broken federal rules."
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