An 'endorsement,' is defined as the act of giving your approval or recommendation to something, usually in a public manner. Endorsements often happen when a celebrity or an influencer supports a product or a brand. Small-time video creators and popular influencers have raked in millions of viewers and advertising dollars on endorsements they share via their social media accounts.
With this in mind, the Federal Trade Commission created a guide that outlines the law regarding 'public conduct' in the context of user-generated endorsements and testimonials for advertising.
*The Guides address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45).
This Guide provides important and relevant information and we need to be aware of.
- Endorsements and Testimonials can't be build based on lies - "... Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser..."
- A brand should not use the content that the endorsers created in a misleading way that was not specified - "... the endorsement may not be presented out of context or reworded to distort in any way the endorser's opinion or experience with the product..."
- If the influencer or celebrity says that uses the respective product, that should be said in good faith and be true - "... When the advertisement represents that the endorser uses the endorsed product, the endorser must have been a bona fide user of it at the time the endorsement was given...."
- If the endorser/testimonial and the brand have a relation (of any type), that should be explained publicly - "...When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement, such connection must be fully disclosed..."
There are different types of endorsements. The classifications depend on who's the endorser:
- If a consumer appears on an advertisement, he/she should be a real consumer -"....Advertisements presenting endorsements by what are represented, directly or by implication, to be "actual consumers" should utilize actual consumers in both the audio and video..."
- Expertises that appear and share their knowledge during endorsements and testimonials. Their expertise field should be related to the product's or brand's - "...Whenever an advertisement represents, directly or by implication, that the endorser is an expert with respect to the endorsement message, then the endorser's qualifications must in fact give the endorser the expertise that he or she is represented as possessing with respect to the endorsement...." "...the endorsement must be supported by an actual exercise of that expertise in evaluating product features or characteristics with respect to which he or she is expert and which are relevant to an ordinary consumer's use of or experience with the product and are available to the ordinary consumer..."
Endorsements by organizations
- In the case of an organization's endorsement, it should have a greater value than one made by an individual. The endorsement should be aligned with the organization values - "... are viewed as representing the judgment of a group whose collective experience exceeds that of any individual member, and whose judgments are generally free of the sort of subjective factors that vary from individual to individual..." "…an organization's endorsement must be reached by a process sufficient to ensure that the endorsement fairly reflects the collective judgment of the organization..."
We hope this clarifies for you, some understanding around the issue of user-generated video endorsements or testimonials. Thank you for reading.