Competition & Markets Authority
Celebrities pledge to clean up their act on social media
Social media stars with millions of followers have agreed to change the way they label their posts, as a result of CMA action.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has secured formal commitments from 16 celebrities to ensure they will now say clearly if they have been paid or received any gifts or loans of products which they endorse.
The influential celebrities, with large online followings, who have acted in response to the CMA’s concerns, include singers Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora, models Alexa Chung and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, former Coronation Street and Our Girl actress Michelle Keegan and TV reality stars Millie Mackintosh and Megan McKenna.
Online endorsements from celebrities and influencers can help brands boost sales, as millions of fans follow their social media channels to see where they go on holiday, what they wear, which products they use and more.
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.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, yesterday said:
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 pledge to be more transparent when posting online. It also sends a clear message to all influencers, brands and businesses that they must be open and clear with their followers. We will also continue our work to secure more improvement in this space.
Warning letters have also been sent to a number of other celebrities, urging them to review their practices where some concerns have been identified.
Further investigation work will look at the role and responsibilities of social media platforms.
The CMA has also published a quick guide for social media influencers, marketing companies, agents and brands to ensure they are aware of their obligations under consumer protection law. This is in addition to the joint guidance issued with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) “An Influencer’s Guide to making clear that ads are ads” published in September 2018.
More information can be found on the CMA’s social media endorsements page
Notes to editors
- ‘Influencer’ refers to bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and social media personalities. The influencers who have complied with the CMA investigation and agreed to change their social media practices are: Alexa Chung, Mario Falcone, Alexandra Felstead (‘Binky’ Felstead), Ellie Goulding, Holly Hagan, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Michelle Keegan and Rosia Promotions Limited, Iskra Lawrence, Camilla Mackintosh (‘Millie’ Mackintosh), Megan McKenna and M McKenna Limited, Chloe Sims, Zoe Sugg, Louise Thompson and Louise Thompson Associates Limited, Dina Torkia, Rita Ora, James Chapman and Jim Chapman Limited.
- This investigation – which began in August 2018 – assessed whether influencers were clearly disclosing paid-for endorsements. The CMA considers payment to be any form of reward, including money, gifts of services or products, or the loan of a product. It follows earlier work in 2015 that considered online reviews and endorsements. As part of that, the CMA accepted undertakings from four companies to ensure that online advertising is clearly labelled or otherwise identified so that it is distinguishable from the opinions of bloggers or journalists.
- The key piece of consumer protection legislation relevant to the CMA’s investigation is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). Amongst other requirements, it is a banned practice to falsely claim or create the impression that a trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.
- The CMA has not made a finding on whether the influencers’ practices have breached consumer law. All influencers co-operated with the CMA and volunteered to make changes to their practices. The provision of undertakings is not an admission of a breach of the law. As an enforcer under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, the CMA can enforce the above legislation through the courts. Ultimately, only a court can decide whether a particular term or practice infringes the law.
- The CMA is working closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in this area. The ASA is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. In March 2018, the ASA issued a call for evidence to find out more about what types of labels help people to understand when the online content they see, hear and interact with is advertising.
Media enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3738 6460.
Latest News from
Competition & Markets Authority
Rail merger raises competition concerns08/11/2019 09:20:00
The CMA has raised concerns on 21 routes between Preston and Scotland under the new award of the West Coast Rail franchise.
Provisional Findings published in LN-Gaiety/MCD merger inquiry07/11/2019 16:10:00
Live Nation-Gaiety’s proposed purchase of MCD does not raise competition concerns, an in-depth CMA investigation has provisionally found.
Wool merger raises competition concerns05/11/2019 16:37:00
The CMA has found that woollen yarn producer Danspin’s purchase of competitor Lawton Yarns poses serious competition concerns for carpet manufacturers in the UK.
CMA secures improvements to Currys’ sale of extended warranties05/11/2019 13:25:00
Currys PC World has agreed to change how it sells extended warranties after its staff gave mystery shoppers incorrect information.
Illumina’s takeover of PacBio raises competition concerns25/10/2019 09:20:00
The proposed merger of 2 DNA sequencing system firms, Illumina and PacBio, raises competition concerns, an in-depth CMA review has provisionally found.
Construction firms fined £36 million for breaking competition law24/10/2019 10:05:00
The CMA has issued 3 firms with fines totalling more than £36 million for breaking competition law in supplying certain concrete drainage products for building projects.
Nationwide to pay up to £2m in refunds for PPI breaches18/10/2019 13:10:00
More than 7,000 customers are to be refunded after the CMA found Nationwide failed to send important PPI information.
Stuart Hudson to fill new Senior Director role16/10/2019 12:37:00
Stuart Hudson has been appointed to the newly-created role of Senior Director for Strategy, Communications, Nations and Regions at the CMA.