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UK probes celebrities endorsing goods, services online

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wants celebrities to properly declare when they are paid, or otherwise rewarded, to endorse goods or services that may influence large number of their followers

world Updated: Aug 17, 2018 05:02 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK,London,United Kingdom
It launched a probe on Thursday, writing to celebrities and social media influencers for details on their online posts. If CMA finds practices that violate the consumer protection law, it can take enforcement action.(Reuters File Photo)

When celebrities announce online where they go on holiday, what they wear, which products they use, and the books they read, it is not entirely clear if they have been paid to make endorsements.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wants celebrities toproperly declare when they are paid, or otherwise rewarded, to endorse goods or services that may influence large number of their followers.

It launched a probe on Thursday, writing to celebrities and social media influencers for details on their online posts.If CMA finds practices that violate the consumer protection law, it can take enforcement action.

CMA said: “Online endorsements from celebrities and influencers can help brands reach target audiences and boost sales. Where influencers are paid or rewarded to promote, review or talk about a product in their social media feeds, consumer protection law requires that this must be made clear.

“If they do not label their posts properly, fans or followers may be led to believe that an endorsement represents the star’s own view, rather than a paid-for promotion. They are then more likely to place trust in that product, as they think it has been recommended by someone they admire.”

But followers might not have the same opinion if it were made clear the brands featured have paid, or in some other way rewarded, the celebrity in return for endorsement.

The investigation is considering the extent to which influencers are clearly and accurately identifying any commercial relationships, and whether people are being misled.

George Lusty of CMA said: “Social media stars can have a big influence on what their followers do and buy. If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or a holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it.

“So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 05:02 IST

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