Last Updated: April 5, 2022
Purpose and Scope of Policy
artPOP! (“Company,” “we,” or “us”) is committed to integrity and transparency in its marketing, advertising, and promotional campaign across all platforms, including social media. We have been expanding our use of third-party endorsements across all of our social media properties to advertise our brand, products and services and as such, must ensure all such messages are truthful and not misleading in every respect. This necessarily includes our obligation to clearly communicate to the consumer when a message is one of our sponsored endorsements.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided a wealth of guidance with respect to an advertiser’s obligation to ensure that all endorsements comply with its directives. We intend to comply with their guidance. The primary source of FTC guidance can be found in its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising in 2009 (16 C.F.R. §§ 255.0 to 255.5) (the “Endorsement Guides”). The purpose of this Social Media Endorsement Policy is to provide you with FTC compliance guidance, including with respect to the Endorsement Guides, to avoid the harsh consequences associated with a violation by us or any of our representatives, agents, employees, or endorsers. As such, this policy applies to: (1) all entities and individuals providing promotional communications on our behalf on any of our social media or other non-traditional media platforms, including without limitation, all independent contractors, bloggers, writers, speakers, influencers, agencies, representatives, brand ambassadors, artists, and talent (collectively, “Endorsers”); (2) all employees, representatives, agencies, and other entities or individuals managing at least one Endorser on Company’s behalf; and (3) all employees, contractors, representative, agents, and other entities or individuals who promote Company and/or its brand, product, or services on their personal social media accounts (either during or after work hours).
Sponsored Endorsers and Material Connections
Whenever we sponsor (i.e., by providing any form of remuneration or benefit) a social media message about Company, and/or our brands, products, or services, the message will be considered a sponsored endorsement covered by this policy. Our sponsorship creates a “material connection” with the individual or entity providing the promotional message; i.e., a tie to our business which, if the consumer/recipient of the message were aware of the relationship, would reasonably cause the consumer to question the speaker’s credibility and motives, thereby affecting the effectiveness of the endorsement in the first instance. A material connection is established any time we do any of the following, either directly or through a third-party agent (among other similar such activities):
- Enter into an agreement with an individual to post or blog about us, and/or our brand, products or services;
- Pay an individual to post or blog about us;
- Provide monetary compensation, free goods, free services, free samples, free sweepstakes entries, free prizes, discounts, coupons, travel to Company events, or other incentives of any kind to an individual posting or blogging about us. This includes any such provision after an individual has independently provided a favorable online post, as such actions would imply that more free goods, services, or other benefits are forthcoming if the posts continue;
- Require contest or sweepstakes entrants to post a photo of themselves using or holding one of our products as a condition of entry; or
- Hire a third-party person or entity (such as a marketing agency) to post or blog about us, and/or serve as a community manager on Company’s behalf (in which case, the agency as well as its employees could be considered sponsored endorsers depending on the circumstances);
Please note that all of our employees, contractors, and agents already have a material connection to us and as such, will definitely be considered sponsored endorsers with respect to any published commentary about us, and/or our brand, products, or services.
This policy requires all sponsored endorsers to disclose, in a clear and conspicuous manner, their relationship to us when making any Company-related promotion on social media. Sample disclosure language includes:
- I received free services from Company;
- I received free products from Company;
- Company provided me with free products to try and review;
- I was paid by Company to provide this review;
- I have partnered with Company to promote their services;
- I am a paid brand ambassador for Company;
- Company paid for my transportation and accommodations to attend the launch of its new product line;
- Company is providing the prize for this program to me free of charge;
- I received a discount on Company’s merchandise for making this review;
- I am an employee of Company;
- I provide paid services to Company;
- I am a friend of the COO of Company;
- I am married to the CEO of Company; or
- Conspicuous inclusion of the words “Advertisement,” “Sponsored by,” “Paid advertisement,” or “Ad,” preferably at the beginning of the statement (which includes the use of a conspicuous and unambiguous hashtag such as #ad, #sponsored, or #paid) with clear reference to Company.
With respect to any social media-disseminated promotional statements and related claims about Company and/or our brands, products, or services, all sponsored endorsers must comply with the following guidelines:
- They may only make statements or claims that are honest in all respects and clearly communicate their relationship with Company (see Material Connection Disclosure, below, for more information respecting this obligation); and
- They are prohibited from:
- Making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims about Company’s, an affiliate of Company’s and/or any third party’s: business, brand, products, or services (particularly where such third party is a competitor of Company);
- Disclosing any of Company’s (or any affiliate of Company’s) proprietary information of any kind;
- Making any statement that can reasonably be considered defamatory, lewd, pornographic, incendiary, obscene, patently offensive, and/or infringing of any third party right, including without limitation any intellectual property, privacy, data protection, confidentiality, and/or publicity right;
- Offering to sell any of Company’s (or any affiliate of Company’s) products or services;
- Soliciting offers of goods and/or services on Company’s behalf; or
- Encouraging the listener to engage in hazardous and/or illegal activities of any kind.
Material Connection Disclosure
When posting or blogging about Company’s (or any affiliate or competitor of Company’s) business, brand, products, and/or services, all sponsored endorsers must disclose their “material connection” to Company in a clear and conspicuous manner. While specific language is not required, examples are set forth in the Section entitled Sponsored Endorsers and Material Connections, above. The communication should, in all instances, be clear, conspicuous, and effective. In other words, the disclosure should be easy to find, easy to understand, and provide enough information so that the consumer can make a reasonable decision as to the value, integrity, and objectiveness of the endorsement. With respect to conspicuousness, the following is imperative: (1) proper placement (i.e., it would be difficult to overlook); and (2) sufficient prominence (i.e., it is easy to read or hear with minimal effort). Avoid placing a disclosure: in overly small font, below the fold, amongst a string of hashtags, or in a hyperlink (such as a “disclosure” link).
Best practices include, where applicable:
- If the endorsement takes the form of a photograph (even if simply a tag without a corresponding, promotional statement), provide the disclosure adjacent to the image. Consider superimposing the material connection disclosure on the image if practically possible;
- If the endorsement takes the form of a video, ensure that the viewer has enough time to fully read and comprehend the statement;
- If the endorsement takes the form of a live stream, repeat the disclosure periodically throughout its duration;
- If the endorsement takes the form of a conversation thread or other online chat, make it the first entry in the dialogue and repeat it periodically throughout the duration of the material; and
- If an endorsement is required to be eligible to enter into a Company promotion, the promotion’s official rules must require all entrants to make this material disclosure on their applicable post. For example, the rules could require all entrants to provide a specific disclosure in the form of a hashtag that corresponds to the applicable post to qualify.
- “Likes” and other, ambiguous symbols are never sufficient to fulfill a material disclosure requirement.
Familiarizing Yourself with FTC Guides
The endorser should be familiar with the FTC’s regulatory guidance, including: (1) the Endorsement Guides (a copy of which can be found online at the following link: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advertising/advertisement-endorsements); (2) the Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking (a copy of which can be found online at the following link: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking); and (3) for social media endorsers, Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers (a copy of which can be found online at the following link: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2019/11/disclosures-101-new-ftc-resources-social-media-influencers).
You should also print and save a copy of this Social Media Endorsement Policy for your reference.
Please contact Company’s Marketing Department at marketing@artPOP.com with any questions regarding the requirements set forth in this Policy.