Social media stars have agreed to be more transparent with their posts online amid a warning from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that they are in danger of breaking consumer law.
Sixteen celebrities and influencers, including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, and the UK’s leading blogger, Zoe Sugg ‘Zoella’, have pledged to spell out whether they have been paid in exchange for a social media post, or if an item they are featuring has been gifted or loaned to them.
Online endorsements from celebrities and influencers can help jewellery brands boost sales, as millions of fans follow their social media channels to see what products they are using and wearing.
However, where such stars are paid or rewarded to promote a product in their social media feeds, consumer protection law requires them to disclose that they’ve been paid or incentivised to endorse a brand. Otherwise, they risk giving a misleading impression that a post represents their personal view about a product or service.
It is believed consumers will place more trust in a product that has been recommended by someone they admire on social media, rather than posted online as part of a paid advertisement.
Some celebrities do use hashtags such as #ad or #sponsored to indicate that they have been paid to post content, but the lines have been blurred when it comes to gifting.
Many jewellery brands will gift individuals with a large following on social media in the hope that they will be spotted wearing the product online.
Now celebrities and influencers will have to declare if they have received a piece of jewellery for free from a firm.
CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, explains: “Influencers can have a huge impact on what their fans decide to buy. People could, quite rightly, feel misled if what they thought was a recommendation from someone they admired turns out to be a marketing ploy.
“You should be able to tell as soon as you look at a post if there is some form of payment or reward involved, so you can decide whether something is really worth spending your hard-earned money on.”
The enforcement action taken by the CMA has seen a number of social media stars volunteer to be more transparent online.
The celebrities named by the CMA are:
- Pop star Rita Ora
- Actress Michelle Keegan
- Singer Ellie Goulding
- Writer and model Alexa Chung
- Designer and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
- Bogger Zoe Sugg
- Mario Falcone from The Only Way Is Essex
- Alexandra ‘Binky’ Felstead from Made In Chelsea
- Holly Haganfrom from Geordie Shore
- Model Iskra Lawrence
- Camilla ‘Milly’ Macintosh from Made In Chelsea
- Reality TV personality Megan McKenna
- Chloe Simsfrom from The Only Way Is Essex
- Louise Thompson from from Made In Chelsea
- Fashion video blogger James Chapman
- Fashion blogger Dina Torkia
While it has not been revealed whether these stars have actually breached consumer law, they have volunteers to change their practices following an investigation.
If they fail to comply with the agreement reached with the CMA, they could be taken to court and face heavy fines or prison sentences of up to two years.
Warning letters have also been sent to a number of other unidentified celebrities, urging them to review their social media posts.
IMAGE CREDIT: Picture for Zoe Sugg’s Instagram. Zoe Sugg often posts images as part of a paid partnership with Daniel Wellington. These are always labelled as ads.