Kardashian “momager” Kris Jenner received a daunting letter from Truth In Advertising claiming her five famous daughters have failed to disclose paid or sponsored Instagram posts. The letter named Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Kendall Jenner as repeat offenders. The Kardashians are like hundreds of celebs who use their massive social media following and popular accounts to plug brands in exchange for money. However, failure to disclose sponsored or paid posts by an advertiser is a direct violation of Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) rules.
The advocacy group claims the Kardashians are not sharing enough when it comes to their high-paying social media gigs. As a whole, the Kardashian’s have amassed over 316 million followers on Instagram. The advertising watch dogs have been monitoring the Kardashians’ accounts and reported what they’ve found. The report says out of the five sisters, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian were repeat offenders.
“…A plethora of posts that do not clearly or conspicuously disclose their relationships with the companies being promoted in the posts as is required by federal law.”
Kylie came in first with 57 posts, and Kim came in second with 22 posts unmarked as advertisements. Top brands such as Puma, Fit Tea, and Calvin Klein were contacted for being in violation of Federal Trade Commission rules as well.
How do the Kardashians get around labeling sponsored posts?
According to Mashable, some Kardashian branded posts are lightly sprinkled with these abbreviated disclosures and others make no mention of a sponsorship. It has been found that the Kardashians retroactively edited a few Instagram posts following the publication of the advocacy letter.
Unless issues “are fully corrected,” Truth In Advertising Inc. vows to notify the Federal Trade Commission by Wednesday, TINA spokeswoman Bonnie Patten told Page Six.
“The law is clear and people are not following it, and it’s not being enforced very often.”
Celebrities and Deceptive Marketing Practices
According to FTC’s rules, a paid post must be clearly marked as such in order to avoid deceiving potential customers. Founder and president of an influencer marketing agency called Clever Girls, Stefania Pomponi said she notices more violations among celebrities than the less famous bloggers and personalities that make up the bulk of the influencer industry.
“It’s not the mom blogger in the midwest who’s going to be the violation — they’re trying to do the right thing… They’re frustrated by the fact that celebrities like the Kardashians who basically live a Truman Show, completely sponsored life don’t disclose anything.”
During an interview, advertising lawyer Jeffrey Greenbaum told Mashable the importance of disclosure.
“If a celebrity has a financial interest in the sales of the products, I think it’s very likely that the FTC would say that’s a fact that requires disclosure.”
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on major offenders especially in light of Peyton Manning’s questionable Budweiser plug during his Super Bowl celebration. When asked how he would celebrate his Super Bowl win, Manning replied with “a lot of Budweiser.”
According to Mashable, if the FTC wanted to act on offenders, they cannot fine anyone. The trade commission at most can mandate an apology or, in very extreme circumstances, force a customer reimbursement. Executive Director Bonnie Patten stated FTC guidelines in the letter to Kris Jenner and collaborative brands.
“When it comes to sponsored social media posts, the law is clear–unless it’s self-evident that an Instagram post is an advertisement, a clear and prominent disclosure is required so that consumers understand that what they are viewing is an ad… The Kardashian/Jenner family and the companies that have a commercial relationship with them have ignored this law for far too long, and it’s time that they were held accountable.”
Next time you’re scrolling through a Kardashian’s Instagram feed, you may see posts bearing the new hashtag: #ad.
Should the Kardashian Clan be held accountable for deceptive marketing practices under FTC guidelines? Sound off in the comments below!
[Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]