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#Disclosures - Are they necessary?

Hashtags are all the rage, and it's no surprise they are seeping into the realm of social promotions. While we can all agree that saying the words "hashtag" and some other term should really be outlawed, when put into practice, these little guys have become quite the resource, allowing people to view all related posts to trending topics, current events, or even all of those pictures that should have stayed buried.

The next logical step, of course, is for brands to utilize this tool when engaging their audience in campaigns and promotions. 

 Here's the catch - the FTC ruled that all hashtag promotions require a disclosure. More specifically, that "entry into a contest to receive a significant prize in exchange for endorsing a product through social media constitutes a material connection that would not reasonably be expected by viewers of the endorsement," wrote Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director for advertising practices.  You can read more about this ruling here.

So, you've seen the recent promotions with hashtags and disclosures. In fact, just look up #contest on any social media site, and you can find many examples. One promotion we worked on was the #WAHLGroomedContest.

The key here is that "Contest" or "Sweeps" or "promotion" or some other reasonable disclosure is included in the promotion hashtag, or as a separate hashtag that is a requirement to enter. 

Cut and dry, right?  Well, maybe not -- you've seen the major brands run promotions without a disclosure.  One recent example is Bud Light's #UpForWhatever promotion.  They are giving away admission to Whatever, USA this summer -- and yet, there's no disclosure.  

There's the loophole -- if the promotion hashtag had been #BudLightUpForWhatever -- they would need to include the disclosure, because the brand name was included.  Since it isn't, they don't need the disclosure.

There you have it. Still have questions? Don't hesitate to give us a call!

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