From early 2017, celebrities and social media ‘influencers’ can no longer post content that they have been paid to publish without mentioning that it is a sponsored post.
This is a long-overdue step to prevent misleading posts on social media. Remember the video game your favourite YouTube gaming expert was all praises for, the one you dint enjoy as much as you thought you would guess what they were most probably paid to promote it. The beauty guru whose eye makeup tutorial insisted a specific type of eyeliner was the best for the look. Same!
How often have we seen celebrities tweet and wondered why they were so obsessed with a particular brand of gummy vitamins or expensive sports shoes. Charlie Sheen’s sponsored tweet looking for an intern was one of the most talked-about promotional tweets in the history of ad tweets and garnered a ridiculous three hundred thousand views. Around eighty-two thousand of those people applied for the job.
The Canadian advertisement industry’s governing body, Advertising Standards Canada, is now revising its rules regarding social media celebrities, bloggers, and other online influencers paid to post content and favourable reviews of products. The new rules will require the ‘influencers’ to disclose whether the content they post is advertising. They will have to disclose if they have received payment or free products in return for mentioning the product or service on social media.
These rules are not unfamiliar for U.S. celebrities, the Federal Trade Commission established similar disclosure rules in 2009, and this move by Advertising Standards Canada has been long overdue. However, Advertising Standards Canada cannot impose fines if these rules are broken. The penalties are expected to come from the Competition Bureau. The brand sponsoring the celebrity will be questioned if pertinent details regarding whether the post is sponsored or not been disclosed.
Many experts have welcomed the move, with some saying the government cannot regulate content on the internet and that it will be physically impossible to deal with cases of people breaking the disclaimer rules. Some others also argued that the rules would give an unfair advantage to some foreign brands where such laws don’t exist.
Whether sponsored posts are growing, it is only fair that customers know exactly what they are watching, a paid advertorial or a real and honest job.