A guide for influencers from the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) explains what influencers, and the brands that work with them, need to do to avoid breaking the law. Project Director Pauline Goodship reports on this for the Council
You may have seen a host of well-known influencers ranging from Alexa Chung through to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Zoe Sugg hit the headlines last month, pledging to now say clearly if they have been paid, incentivised or rewarded in any way to endorse or review something in their social media posts. With influencer marketing well-established (and often incredibly effective) in the beauty industry, it’s important that influencers and brands understand what consumer law means for them.
Everyone involved in influencer partnerships and endorsements – from the brand owner, advertiser, PR team and agent, through to the influencers themselves – has a duty to make sure audiences are getting the full picture about a post so people can make an informed decision about what to buy.
If influencers have received payment, or any other incentives (such as gifts or free beauty or styling services), they need to clearly state this in any post which endorses, tags or links to a product or service. It’s important that audiences aren’t misled by posts which might not reflect the influencer’s authentic opinion, or imply the influencer has chosen to buy something they actually received free.
Brands and businesses working with influencers or their agents should make sure they understand the requirements of consumer law and encourage influencers to disclose upfront their relationship if they choose to endorse the brand. Greater transparency and authenticity in social media posts can also build audience trust and protect the reputation of influencers and brands alike.
The CMA, alongside the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), is working to ensure consumers are being treated fairly when interacting with social media endorsements.