Influencer Marketing Laws Around the World

Influencer Marketing Laws

In 2014, an Oreo campaign that hired UK YouTubers to engage in ‘lick races’, had all the videos taken down after an advertising watchdog found a lack of disclosure. The UK has very strict influencer marketing laws, which require disclosure within the video and not just in the description of the video. That same kind of enforcement is coming to the US this year – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced they will start strictly enforcing the rules they implemented years ago (to date, enforcement has been lax). Transparency and disclosure is absolutely crucial if you want to maintain your audiences’ trust, but not only that, it’s part of the law in the US. You can hide a brand deal by not disclosing it, but it will only hurt you in the long run.

I was curious about the kind of laws that exist around the world, so I set out to research them. This blog post does NOT constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is solely designed to give you an idea of the kind of laws that exist (or do not) around the world. I have always preached that strong, open and direct disclosure is the best policy for both yourself (legally) and your relationship with your audience.

United States

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defined clear influencer marketing rules several years ago. Content creators must disclose on each platform the content is shared (example: a blog must include disclosure, but a tweet sharing that blog must as well.) #ad is sufficient for Twitter as long as used before a link. While disclosure at the bottom of a post is okay, if it’s not clear and conspicuous, it may not be sufficient (small fonts/hidden under comments etc).  The FTC has announced that Enforcement is about to become very strict.

Canada

Canadian Influencers

Canada is behind in updating the laws to include influencer marketing, but there are some existing laws that do apply. Canada’s Marketing Code of Ethics requires disclosure of the connection between a marketer and someone endorsing their product. The Canadian Competition Bureau requires that you disclose if you have been paid or given something free to promote a product. Also, there is a law requiring that you have used the product and can be considered an expert in it before you can publicly promote it (Astroturfing). There has been little done to enforce this though.

United Kingdom

The UK has clear requirements set for content creators.  If any content is paid for (either with cash, or product) you must disclose that fact. They issued a direct letter to all content creators as a warning. The laws are covered in two pieces including one related to unfair trading and another about advertising practice codes. They also have additional rules for video creators. Enforcement is increasing in 2016 and beyond.

Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is a federal body that protects consumers. In their Competition and Consumer Act 2010, it says disclosure is necessary if it would be deceptive or misleading not to. As it stands now, the interpretation of that is somewhat open – and as such, disclosure is a good idea but it’s not strict (at the moment). Several court cases involving paid influencer will better define those rules soon.

China

Earlier this year, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) updated their laws as they related to online advertising. One of the specific requirements was that paid ads must be clearly marked. They also added that any ‘celebrity or endorser’ can be held liable if they endorse a product with false advertising.

Spain

Influencer Marketing Laws

Spain has pretty clear laws surrounding influencer marketing. It must be made clear to the reader/viewer that there is a relationship with the brand. That does not mean that every image/second needs to be tagged as such though. The rules become especially strict if an influencer’s main audience is under 18. The document is as one of the best when it comes to setting clear expectations for influencers.

Thailand

There are currently no laws that relate to disclosure and influencer marketing. Also, in researching this I learned that there will never be laws surrounding it for one reason: “ทำอะไรตามใจ คือไทยแท้.”

European Union

Some member states of the European Union have some kind of law related to endorsements. However, there has yet to be an overall guide. The European Union is working a new set of laws and guidelines that will directly effect influencer marketing. You can see some of the plans here as they relate to misleading ads.

South Africa

Influencer Marketing Laws

The laws that exist can be interpreted to apply to influencers, but that is unlikely. As such, there are currently no requirements for disclosure.

India

There are no rules that are directly mention online influencers, but they are working on them. One law that may apply is on ‘celebrity endorsement’, which could hold the endorser liable for damages or even jail time if they endorse a product that does not deliver – false advertising.

Singapore

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), just released a new set of guidelines as it relates to influencer marketing. The new rules go into effect in Singapore on September 29th and are pretty detailed. First, you need to disclose if there has been any kind of compensation as soon as possible into a piece of content. Accepted disclosure includes the use of #adv, #sponsored or #endorsed. Secondly, they make it against the rules to inflate engagement by paid likes/followers/comments. There are additional articles that include fake reviews, negative campaigns and more. Check out the full list of rules here.

Why Creators Should be More Like Donald Trump

Be Like Donald Trump

Before having read a word I’ve written in this post – is your mind filled with negativity? Does the title alone with it’s positive Donald Trump slant immediately instill thoughts that *I* must be a terrible person for saying that people should be like him? Congrats, you’ve proven exactly why creators should be more like Donald Trump.

As creators, the ultimate goal of doing anything – whether that’s blogging, or creating videos for YouTube, or taking photos on Instagram, is to give your audience a takeaway. Something that they can remember, or feel, or know from here on out. Perhaps as a blogger, that’s writing a review that will help someone decide whether it’s worth buying or not. As a YouTuber, maybe it’s to entertain and make someone smile on their worst days. As an Instagramer, maybe it’s about giving them a new perspective on something they’ve seen 100 times before, but never quite like this. This is how influencers are made – if you can repeatedly deliver an experience, education, message, or POV, you build a relationship with that person. Much like how marketers will talk about effective frequency (the number of times you need to see something before you’ll consider buying – Rule of 7), your audience needs to repeatedly get a positive experience from your content.

Donald Trump Content

Now the question becomes – why should creators be more like Donald Trump? While I don’t agree with a lot of the message, I can’t help but admire his ability to rally support and defying everyone’s expectations. How has he done that? By being entirely himself, speaking off the cuff, being unafraid of anyone and doing it in an entirely in a “Donald Trump” kind of way. The man knows about brand building, and he changed the world of politics as well.

What Donald Trump Does and How You Can Emulate It

As a creator, let’s list some of the things that Trump does that you should do:

  • Be Yourself – If there’s something YOU want to create content about – DO IT. Don’t restrict yourself to content that you think people will like and instead create content that YOU like. If you like it there’s going to be a passionate audience that loves it too. The days of pandering content are quickly going away.
  • Speak off the Cuff – Don’t carefully craft everything you want to say and instead just start saying it. There’s so much about building a relationship with an audience that comes from being unscripted and real. Reading from a teleprompter or being overly careful is a recipe for distrust.
  • Weather The Storm – If you DO get negative feedback: take the criticism, ignore the trolls and grow from the experience. The phony apologies don’t work and just serve to damage your reputation further. Your audience wants YOU, not you according to other people. (You’re also no one if no one hates you.)
  • Do it Uniquely – Do something that no one else is doing. That’s a big thing that sets you apart from the pack. Too many creators do what everyone else is doing, and it’s impossible to build an audience on that. There’s a reason Donald Trump is leading the pack – he’s not like anyone else.
  • Just Keep Going – Never stop creating content! Trump either has money, or he doesn’t… depends on who you ask, but he doesn’t care either way. If you’re not seeing traffic, just keep creating. This isn’t a short sprint, it’s a long marathon.
  • Ruffle Feathers – Don’t be afraid to shake things up and take down the status quo. It’s meant to change and improve – and while the people who are the standard won’t love you, they will fall behind. (And they still won’t like you.)

You know what content creator best compares to Donald Trump?

Casey Neistat

Casey is currently the YouTube golden boy – everyone knows his name, everyone knows his style, and everyone had to improve as a result of him getting in on the vlogging. To prove the comparison….

  • Casey is 100% himself. Weird, quirky, wears ripped clothing, spray paints his sunglasses… he’s just a character. But that character is him.
  • He ALWAYS speaks off the cuff, often using the wrong word or a word that doesn’t exactly fit… but you understand what he’s trying to say. He also swears a lot (not in the vlog, but at every off-vlog speaking engagement).
  • He’s weathered the (few) storms that have come his way. When he got grief for making fun of a cop and his car, he just said that’s what New Yorkers do… and moved on.
  • His style CHANGED the vlogging game. So many creators now emulate him (even massive creators with more subscribers than him!) It was something YouTube had never seen before and it was incredibly unique.
  • Casey started YouTube years ago and posted infrequently, but now he posts every day. In a year and a half of daily vlogging he went from a few hundred thousand subscribers to over 3.5 million.
  • Casey is no stranger to ruffling features – his first viral hit was a hit job on Apple. Meanwhile he’s happy to throw digital swings at other creators for stealing his style, or doing things wrong, or just being a detriment to the YouTube world. They certainly don’t love him, but he doesn’t care.

Be like Donald Trump. Be like Casey Neistat. There’s a reason they are popular, and you can be too.