In November 2015, Cosmopolitan called Kardashians America’s first family. People were freaking out, some of them were even furious because US already has the First Family. However, the popularity of Kardashians’ clan still growing, their pages in social media draw attention of fans/haters and, of course, authorities too.

Last week, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, Truth in Advertising (TINA), announced in a blog post that it had sent a letter to the Kardashian/Jenner family alerting them about the deceptive marketing campaigns and to 200 companies whose products the family members deceptively promote on Instagram. TINA also notified them that, if illegal posts were not remedied by August 24, it would file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ Social Media Strategy

Worldwide known Sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, along with half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner have more than 316 million followers on Instagram. All five are in the top 25 most-followed accounts on Instagram (Kim takes the top spot at #6 with almost 81 million followers).

When the Kardashians post pictures or videos with a promoted product on social media, huge number of people see those advertisements. The main problem is that people may not understand that it’s an ad. If posts don’t have a disclosure, followers may believe that the Kardashians simply like a product. At the same time, they are actually working with companies and it’s a part of marketing campaign.

 

 Kardashians’ Social Media Strategy

 

Problems With Paid Ads

According to the FTC’s December 2015 native advertising guidelines, paid posts have to include clear disclosures. The hashtag #ad or specific words like “paid” and “advertising” help influencers to show that it’s an ad. According to the FTC, tagging the brand on photo isn’t enough. The audience may not understand that there was a commercial transaction.

The Kardashians had problems with federal authorities before. The FDA sent a warning letter to Kim back in 2015. She posted an ad for a morning sickness drug without disclosing the sponsorship or the drug’s side effects. TINA decided just to warn the Kardashians because they show a great example of how influencer marketing might go wrong. This situation may bring attention to a recurring problem on platforms like Instagram. Its’ most-liked post of all time is an undisclosed ad for Coca-Cola from Selena Gomez.

In reality, the Kardashians probably aren’t at risk for much besides a few days of bad publicity. Precedence suggests that huge brands will likely be the ones in the crosshairs of any legal recourse.

 

‘Not The First, Not The Last’

Influencer marketing is still a tough subject for marketers. There are a lot of legal and moral issues that they have to deal with before posting a photo or video. Despite its’ popularity, influencer marketing seems not to be a sustainable model and the first cracks in its foundation have already leaded to started shakeout.

The FTC’s recently settled complaint against Warner Bros. for an influencer marketing campaign. It demonstrated that regulatory authorities are placing the onus on brands, not influencers, to ensure proper disclosure. Like TINA, the FTC targeted a high profile influencer, YouTube megastar PewDiePie, to garner publicity for the complaint. At the end, it hit the brand with the actual sanctions.

“No one knows better than advertisers how to make disclosures clear and conspicuous,” Lesley Fair, a senior attorney at the FTC, wrote at the time.

 

‘Crime And Punishment’ Or Not?

The FTC has yet to dish out anything approaching a significant punishment. Warner Bros. faced little more than a slap on the wrist. The FTC is requiring Warner Bros. to educate influencers on legal disclosure. Instead, TINA and the FTC seem to be hoping that consumers realize their idols are engaging in deceptive marketing. After that, influencers and celebrities will take care to disclose sponsorships.

 “The Kardashians and Jenners are greatly appreciative of their fans. They take their responsibility seriously to be as open and transparent in their interactions with their fans and the public. We appreciate TINA bringing these matters to our attention and are working swiftly and diligently with our brand partners and TINA to update any past social media posts that do not clearly reflect a commercial relationship, where one exists,” said Michael Kump, the Kardashian/Jenner family attorney, in a statement to TINA.org

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