FTC Crackdown on Marketers & Actors who are not adding disclosures


#1

Recently, Fiverr added this to every Seller’s gig under the sub-category Spokesperson & Testimonials…“Sellers in this category are actors. The testimonials they provide on your behalf are paid, promotional materials, and you should indicate this to your customers.”

This is response to the recent updates to the US Federal Trade Commission Guidelines and the even more recent warnings that a crack-down is imminent. The warning is that failure to comply may result in prosecution under the FTC’s Fair Trade Act and Truth in Advertising. Marketers, Bloggers, Celebrities, Actors, Online Influencers will be their targets (check the entire FTC website for the complete list, hard to find but it’s there). In other words, everyone who is party to false advertising. Read the FTC Guidelines and their Updated Guidelines (2 separate places on their site) to understand their definition of false advertising too. btw- Fiverr is not party, they are merely a platform.

ARE SELLERS AT RISK? Yes, according to the FTC website and various attorney sites I visited. I’m not an attorney, but I do know how to read the layman language the FTC purposely makes clear to us. Fiverr’s notice may appear to protect Sellers, but trust me, it does not. Only you can protect yourself from being an unwitting participant in false advertising.

HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
The FTC makes clear that they require a disclosure added to the video letting consumers know this is a paid actor. Since you offer not just acting, but complete video advertising production, you are required to comply. This is commonplace with advertisers just about everywhere but online. Now, the FTC wants disclosures for online marketing, that’s all.

SHOULD YOU TRUST THE MARKETER TO ADD THE DISCLOSURE AFTER YOU’VE DELIVERED THE VIDEO?
That’s your decision. Just understand that if someone brings suit against the marketer, you will probably be included. Fiverr would receive a court order requiring they turn over your contact info. Much, much easier to protect yourself by adding those few simple words in the disclosure as an extra. You’ll protect you, the consumer, the Buyer, and make more money too. Honest Buyers will be appreciative.

This is what I’m planning. I’m explaining to marketers the benefit of adding the disclosure (actually, there is a benefit) and the risk of not adding it. I offer it as an extra that I overlay onto the video. Personally, I feel that If they don’t buy it then they never planned to and they become a risk to my retirement account that I’m not willing to take.


What would you rate my gig video?
#2

Hmmm very interesting to know this!


#4

It will be the responsibility of the buyer/publisher who finally publishes the video on whatever platform to add the disclosure. Until than it’s just a video that has been created for that client. No more no less.


#5

Good info to know and I also mentioned this in a thread more than 3 years ago here:

Also note that those spokespersons who pretend to be someone else and use another name could also land themselves in a lot of do do. Why? Because they knowingly use a different identity to fool the public. Also not go for your online reputation.

A disclosure in the video is best to avoid future problems.


#6

One thing you mentioned I’m trying to understand in case I buy videos of this type, or even sell them someday. overall I understand your post and it makes good sense. This part I wanted to ask about, where you said:

So, you explain to your buyers the benefit of buying your extra. If they don’t buy it, you see it as a risk to you, not just them, and one that you aren’t willing to take. So, if someone buys your video but does not buy the extra, will you try to cancel those orders?


#7

That´s an interesting topic, thanks for the concise explanation.

Does it target ‘audio only’ too, e. g. voice over people? From the logic behind it I can´t see much of a difference if someone, say, presents themself as a dentist for a toothpaste commercial on a video or in a radio spot, but are ‘audio-artists’ counted as actors?


#8

Not true under the new guidelines. The FTC is specific, they want the disclosure at the beginning of the video and not anywhere else.

Since Fiverr actors are also the videographers/editors/producers, they become part of the marketing team and are equally responsible for adding the disclosure to the video.


#9

Quiet sure a lot of sellers still has no clue the newest addition of condition to their gigs.

I did notice this a while back, but didn’t bring it up since it didn’t cater to me.

I think the best action would be to include a small disclaimer text you see in TV ads where it’s displayed “Paid Promotion” or “Actors portraying real customer testimonials” etc.


#10

A tiny message at the end saying “The announcer is a paid professional spokesperson” would work.


#11

I am positive that it’s the publishers responsibility to make sure that this message comes before the video, whether he puts it there him/herself or makes it part of the order.
It’s a deeper subject as there come also such things like publishing and usage rights into play.


#12

Anytime anyone is hired to portray a consumer or an expert it must be disclosed. Spokespersons who don a lab coat and stethoscope must comply since they’re falsely inferring they’re medical personnel.

Since most of us here on Fiverr are also the producers of the advertising piece, and not just the talent, our responsibility to add the disclosure is more certain than dubious.


#13

That exact statement would actually defeat the purpose most buyers who purchase these videos.

The statement has to be crafted so that it covers the poster’s rear while pulling a fast one over the viewers eyes.


#14

The FTC makes no mention of the publisher being solely responsible. I urge everyone to read the FTC guidelines and the attorney sites to better understand their aggressive approach to stop false advertising online.

If a Seller delivers a video with a disclosure and the Buyer removes it afterwards, then the Buyer is liable and not the Seller.


#15

I think the FTC would be fine with that too They just want marketers to be honest with consumers online, just like everywhere else.


#16

Ironically, this is a good thing for my Buyers. Adding the disclosure builds brand equity because it demonstrates that they are an honest and responsible company.

Disclosure = Buyer benefit + Buyer protection

I’m a firm believer that if we get enough Sellers to come onboard with this we can get Buyers to do the right thing and make more money too! Make no mistake, ALL those old testimonial and spokesperson videos will need to have disclosures added.


#17

This is will be good, but not realistic. Many of buyer will not like to add this as it might be have negative effects on viewers trust.


#18

If a Buyer feels that being honest is a threat to their bottom line, then that Buyer is a threat to my bottom line.


#19

It also depends on the location of the hosting platform. If it’s outside of the US the FTC rules do not apply.


#20

I did find this from the European Commission website, which was updated just 6 weeks ago.

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumer_rights/unfair-trade/unfair-practices/index_en.htm

I skimmed the site briefly and it appears they’re following the FTC lead but delegating enforcement to participant countries.