Stealthily disguised product placement all up on the 'gram? That's the allegation being hurled against the Kardashian-Jenner family. Truth in Advertising (TINA), a nonprofit organization focused on uncovering "false advertising and deceptive marketing," is giving the Kardashian-Jenner crew seven days to remove over 100 Instagram posts before notifying the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of alleged violations.
Those 100+ posts included the promotion of more than two dozen companies and related products, using what TINA described to Variety as "deceptive" methods of advertising. "When it comes to sponsored social media posts, the law is clear—unless it's self-evident that an Instagram post is an advertisement, a clear and prominent disclosure is required so that consumers understand that what they are viewing is an ad," TINA Executive Director Bonnie Patten said in a press release Monday. "The Kardashian-Jenner family and the companies that have a commercial relationship with them have ignored this law for far too long, and it's time that they were held accountable."
By TINA's calculations, Kylie Jenner had the most problematic posts out of the fam. Paid Fit Tea posts popped up on the official accounts of Kylie, Khloé Kardashian, and Kim Kardashian. Puma, an obvious mainstay in the Kylie brand, topped TINA's sampling with 13 problematic posts. Peep the TINA organization's letter to manager Kris Jenner in full here.
The FTC overhauled its endorsement guidelines in May of last year to include mentions of social media postings. An FAQ section on the FTC's official website now outlines the requirements of celebrity Twitter accounts, for example, as follows:
"It depends on whether her followers understand that her tweets about products are paid endorsements. If a significant portion of her followers don’t know that, disclosures are needed. Again, determining that could be tricky, so we recommend disclosure."
The FTC settled a case with Warner Bros. back in July regarding similar allegations, specifically the amount of disclosure the studio required from a number of YouTube influencers who were allegedly incentivized to promote the 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection division, said in a press release at the time that all consumers "have the right to know" whether reviewers' opinions are potentially being compromised in favor of glorified "sales pitches."