Hardly a day goes by that you don’t see a celebrity, star athlete, or other well-known person touting the benefits of some product or service. But glowing recommendations aren’t always what they appear to be.
When a company uses paid endorsers to promote its products, that fact must be disclosed in the endorsement. And it goes without saying that ads should be recognizable as ads. But not all companies play by the rules.
Recently, the FTC announced settlements with a public relations firm, a magazine publisher, and the two people who own and operate the companies. The FTC alleged that the businesses used deceptive endorsements and “advertorials” to promote the launch of a client’s product. Essentially, the companies not only failed to disclose that two Olympic athletes were paid spokespersons, but they also used standard article formatting to disguise paid advertising — advertorials — as traditional magazine content.
If you’re thinking of buying a product because well-known personalities say it works for them, slow down. It can be helpful to look at reviews from a variety of sources. Social media posts and articles that appear to be independent opinions may actually be paid promotions.