NAD Decision Addresses Influencer Disclosures

Last week, NAD announced a decision involving a challenge that a competitor brought against Wonderbelly involving (among other things) an influencer campaign.

Wonderbelly engaged a number of influencers to promote its Wonderbelly Antacids on social media. The challenger argued that many of these influencers failed to properly disclose their material connection to Wonderbelly and that even when the influencers did make the necessary disclosures, they were buried among other hashtags or below the fold” such that consumers would have to click a link to see them.

In response, Wonderbelly agreed to revise its influencer agreements to comply with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides. More specifically, the company will require influencers to include hashtags such as #ad or #WonderbellyPartner at the beginning of each post. The company also promised to require its influencers to verbally disclose their connection to Wonderbelly in video posts. NAD was happy with these changes.

The challenger complained about a post by Demi Moore promoting Wonderbelly which she stated was not an ad” and failed to disclose that she is an investor in the company. Wonderbelly responded that Ms. Moore almost always discloses that she is an investor in her posts, and that it had advised her to ensure she does that in every post going forward. NAD was happy with that, too, although it cautioned that Ms. Moore should not claim that a post is not an ad.”

The challenger also complained that when Wonderbelly reposted influencer posts, the original disclosures weren’t carried over to the repost. Wonderbelly argued that the reposts did not require a disclosure, but NAD disagreed. In fact, in the revised Endorsement Guides, the FTC has stated that when reposting material from a paid influencer, an advertiser must clearly and conspicuously disclose its relationship to the influencer in the repost.

There’s nothing surprising in this decision, but it’s worth noting that the challenge was brought by a competitor, rather than having been initiated by the FTC. Companies that take shortcuts hoping that they will stay under the FTC’s radar should remember that competitors have their own radars. And companies that find their competitors aren’t complying with the law should remember that NAD provides a forum to address that.