More than 46 million people knows Felix Kjellberg as one of the most successful YouTube bloggers in gaming industry, PewDiePie. In total, his channel has almost 13 billion of views and this number is not going to slow growth. No one in the traditional games media industry even comes close. Even IGN, the most popular game site on the platform, has only 6 million subscribers.

Collaboration with PewDiePie brings wild success to the games. ‘Happy Wheels’, ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ and ‘Slender: The Eight Pages’ became viral partly because of PewDiePie’s popularity play-through videos.


PewDiePie Vs Warner Bros


Warner Bros. Vs PewDiePie

Video game studios, of course, are interested in cooperation with famous YouTubers like PewDiePie. However, even it seems to be easy, there are still huge problems with working with influencers. According to FDT’s official report, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc. has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it “deceived consumers” during a marketing campaign for the video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

It happened by failing to “adequately disclose” that it paid online influencers, including PewDiePie, thousands of dollars to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and social media. Over the course of the campaign, the sponsored videos had more than 5.5 million views. People watched PewDiePie’s sponsored video more than 3.7 million times.

This decree seems to be a conspicuous sign to date that the FTC wants to pepper the native advertising. PewDiePie today is, without controversy, one of the most famous internet celebrity. The fact, that FTC targeted a campaign that used his channel, brings the thought, that it’s the warning signal to influencers and advertisers in social media.


FTC pointed out three elements:

1. “Warner Bros. instructed influencers to place the disclosures in the description box appearing below the video. Because Warner Bros. also required other information to be placed in that box, the vast majority of sponsorship disclosures appeared ‘below the fold.’ It visible only if consumers clicked on the ‘Show More’ button in the description box.”

The press release also pointed out that including disclosures in the info box made it impossible for consumers to know more about the paid sponsorship when they viewed the videos on Twitter or Facebook.

2. “In some cases, the influencers disclosed only that they had received early access to Shadow of Mordor, but failed to disclose that Warner Bros. also had paid them to promote the game.”

That’s the tricky moment in online marketing campaigns with influencers. They usually claim that they received “early access” to the game or simply received a product. FTC’s December 2015 native advertising rules state that the organization needs to see specific words like “paid” and “advertising.”

3. “Warner Bros.’ contracts with influencers subjected their videos to pre-approval, and that on at least one occasion Warner Bros. reviewed and approved an influencer video that lacked adequate sponsorship disclosure.

That’s, actually, very interesting point from the complaint.

What is more, Warner Bros. asked influencers to express only positive sentiment in the campaigns. Those videos could not express negative opinions about the game or Warner Bros. itself, could not show glitches or bugs. It must include “a strong verbal call-to-action to click the link in the description box. It’s for the viewer to go to the [game’s] website to learn more about the [game], the registration process, and game tutorial,” according to Ars Technica.

Influencers could not express negative opinions

It’s a difficult situation because the FTC classifies influencer marketing as paid advertisements, which are meant to be positive. Nevertheless, it also shows that the FTC believes influencer marketing and native advertising are inherently confusing for consumers. They may not realize that paid videos often require positive reactions. So they may take an influencer’s paid recommendation as their personal opinion.


What’s next

The potential results of the settlement, pending public comment, are relatively lackluster. Most of the orders simply require Warner Bros. to follow regulation lest they receive more punishment. Although they also require Warner Bros. to educate influencers and even withhold payment if influencers do not follow proper compliance.

Clearly, the FTC is putting the onus on brands, not influencers, to comply with regulations. So all FTC’s punishments from not following the rules go to influencer’s sponsors not to him personally. PewDiePie don’t need to worry about it anymore, we know the truth.


PewDiePie responded in a video, that explains everything

PewDiePie Vs Warner Bros

He says that there was no breach of contract and the fault lies at the feet of Warner Bros., not PewDiePie or any of the other influencers. Everyone should know that by this time. FTC’s hunt may have just began and by targeting a campaign with PewDiePie, they send a message to influencers and advertisers to tranquilly follow the rules.

Subscribe to WM Daily. Be In Touch With Rebellious Voices