*** Clearly my WOM Enthusiast hat is on with this post.
This fall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will release updated guidelines on endorsements used in advertising and marketing. Current guidelines were last updated long before the Internet became an irreplaceable communication/networking channel and before marketers understood the irrefutable power of word-of-mouth marketing.
The FTC works to protect consumers from being influenced by unethical, untruthful, and unscrupulous business practices. Updated guidelines will address the need for endorsers, reviewers, and businesses to be 100% transparent and disclose when material compensation (in-kind gifts, special access privileges) and outright compensation (cash) changes hands.
On September 14, 2009, WOMMA hosted a webinar on ETHICS & ENDORSEMENTS: What is Adequate Disclosure. The diverse panel included marketers, entrepreneurs, a professor, a marketing analyst, and a lawyer.
The resounding sentiment was marketers and bloggers need to design word-of-mouth marketing programs to state early (and often) when material compensation changes hands.
It is a non-negotiable … businesses must solve for being obvious and upfront when a brand offers in-kind gifts, special access privileges, and cash as part of a marketing program designed to spark word-of-mouth.
Solutions discussed by the panelists centered around being clear and conspicuous when disclosing material relationships between a brand and a consumer. Practical implications talked about on the webinar included: “disclosure badges” on websites, prominently placed “terms of engagement” practices, specially designated “product review” blogs, and uniquely tagging of tweets (such as [#ad]).
WATCH. LISTEN. LEARN.
You can watch, listen, and learn more by watching this highly edited version of the webinar. This 11-minute version shares key takeaways spoken by the panelists.
LEARN MORE. DO MORE.