Stars who ‘happen’ to namedrop brands and products will be prevented from doing so, under new regulations by the OFT.Brand endorsements will be allowed only if the celebs previously confirm they have an affiliation to the brand, which up to now has not been common practice on the blogging site and other similar online forums.
The move by Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) comes following an investigation into tweeting by commercial blogging network Handpicked Media, who was said to be paying bloggers to write about their clients’ products.
The practice amounts to unlawful use of what is claimed to be ‘independent’ sites and is deceptive to the consumer, says the OFT.
“The integrity of information published online is crucial so that people can make informed decisions on how to spend their money.
We expect online advertising and marketing campaigns to be transparent so consumers can clearly tell when blogs, posts and microblogs have been published in return for payment or payment in kind,” the trading body said in a statement.
Companies are also cottoning onto the credibility a Twitter mention can do for their product, considering the large number of followers some celebrity accounts have and the enormous sums they pay them for namedropping services.
Endorsements can be a very lucrative industry – overexposed reality star Kim Kardashian, who has over 5.5 million followers, is said to earn anything up to $10,000 on any given week for her tweets.
Estee Lauder model Liz Hurley has also blogged on her Twitter account about using the products on several occasions, despite never mentioning her long standing affiliation with the brand, which earns her tidy sums.
In September she wrote: “Oooh, best mascara ever, Estee Lauder’s Sumptuous.”
Singer Lily Allen also tweeted about Grey Goose vodka and uploaded a picture of the drink, saying “Whoop Whoop!!! Grey Goose in the house.”
Incidentally, the same brand provides the alcohol for Allen’s in store bar in her vintage clothes shop, Lucy In Disguise, in London.
It is unclear whether the stars are under contractual obligation from the brands to make mentions via Twitter.