It’s amazing really – just two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the influencer marketing laws around the world. In that post, I noted that Canadian influencer marketing laws should exist but currently there was no enforcement. Late last week, the Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) announced they are working on new guidelines. The new suggestions will apply to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs and any other situation where you are being compensated (either with cash, product or otherwise).
“Endorsement or testimonials must disclose any material connection between the endorser, reviewer or influencer and the entity that makes a product or service available,” says Janet Feasby, vice-president of standards at ASC.” – Marketing Magazine
Now, that said, this warning is little more than a paper tiger threat. Janet Feasby, Jani Yates and the rest of the ASC unfortunately have very little power to actually do anything. The ASC is a self-regulating group that has no direct tie to the government. As such, enforcement and punishment will be… well… non-existent. In the past, whenever the ASC has found someone violating the rules, they send them a note asking them to cease. Bigger entities generally comply with the request. However, because there is no enforcement, influencers can ignore it if one is sent their way and nothing will happen.
No Canadian Influencer Marketing Laws Yet*
Again, in my previous post I noted that the Canadian Competition Bureau COULD apply their rules for endorsements to influencer marketing. They ARE a government agency and could certainly enforce their rules. Perhaps, they will follow in the footsteps of the ASC, but that remains to be seen. For now, while it’s a step in the right direction – it ultimately changes little in terms of setting new Canadian Influencer Marketing Laws. PS. The BEST policy is always disclosing your relationship with a brand. Also, this post should in no way be constituted as legal advice.
UPDATE September 1: Competition Bureau Response
I contacted the Competition Bureau of Canada to get some idea on how they look at influencer marketing and if they plan on updating their laws or improve enforcement. Here’s what they said:
Thank you for your enquiry regarding influencer marketing. The Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”), as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. The misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”) prohibit advertisers from making a representation, by any means whatever, that is false or misleading in a material respect, and further provide that the general impression conveyed by the representation be taken into account. Section 74.02 of the Act addresses this conduct.
For more information on the Bureau’s enforcement and recent activity in this area, please visit the following links:
– The Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest, Volume 1 (section 3)
– Don’t buy into fake online endorsements
– Bell Canada reaches agreement with Competition Bureau over online reviews