Social networking sites are used to keep people in touch with each other. People, especially celebrities have used this to their advantage. Endorsing products… …and increasing their popularity.
Enjoy publicrecognition by alarge group ofpeople or massaudience. With a high degree of public awareness, one of their main roles is keeping in the public eye through social events and through social networking sites…
With the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey promoting Twitter as a social networking site, it‟s no surprise they‟ve taken the accessibility of communicating with all their fans at the same time and used it to their advantage.They have over18 million followers between them.
According to Friedman and Friedman, a“celebrity endorser is an individual who isknown by the public(…)for his or herachievements in areas other than that of theproduct being endorsed.” (1979, p. 63)
So, should endorsements via Twitter and othersocial networking sites be restricted?
Restrictions on endorsing products via social networking sites have already been set up by the Office of Fair Trading. „The OFT enforces consumer protection law and competition law‟. It has confirmed that online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid for promotions are deceptive under fair trading laws.(Office of Fair Trading [online] 2010)
With the U.S. a lot more relaxed about celebrities promoting products on Twitter, a Tweet from Khloe Kardashian can reputedly be bought for $8,000 or £5,000. She has Tweeted: Hi Dolls! Want 2 look fab in a pinch? Whiten w/ (at)Crest 3D White 2 HR Express for a gorg smile in 2 Hrs!„ CHARLIE SHEEN (U.S. TELEVISION AND FILM STAR) - 6.3MILLION FOLLOWERS The market rate for a Tweet from Charlie Sheen is around $8,500 per Tweet - or £6,000, according to the PR industry. He has Tweeted: Im looking to hire a (hash)winning INTERN with (hash)TigerBlood. Apply here.
Heather Clayton, Senior Director of OFT‟s Consumer Group says „Theinternet plays a key role in how people purchase products and servicesand the importance of online advertising continues to grow. The OFT hasbolstered its expertise in this area and is taking targeted actions toensure that the law is clear, increase business compliance and empowerconsumers.‟
Twitter users were angered by Rio Ferdinand‟s tweets, endorsing the chocolate brand snickers. “rioferdy5: You‟re not you when you‟re hungry @snickersUk#hungry#spon”His random promotional postsignored OFT advice aboutcelebrities making it clear whenthey promote or endorse aproduct. These kinds of endorsements are seen as „deceptive advertising‟.
There are already regulations in force to protect consumers beingmisled, but is this affecting the way celebrities communicate with theirfollowers on Twitter?
Restrictions are being enforced due to tweets via the social networking site promoting violent behaviour such as during the London riots of August 2011.Celebrities claim byusing Twitter theysimply want to keep intouch with their fansand keep them up todate.
„July 25: Got a really white smile from celeb dentist, Druian & Spektor yay!‟ „July 29: Thank you @zaratayloruk for the gorgeous jewellery!‟ „Aug 4: This weather calls for a @vitaliberata spray tan!!‟Millie Mackintosh and BinkyFelstead‟s spokeswoman said that„they were not paid for any of thepromotions and they are simplyshowing good manners andthanking people for the nicethings they receive. It is not a caseof getting a straightforwardfreebie; it is mutually beneficial, itis good brand positioning.‟
YouTube has hundreds of„beauty guru‟s now, withcompanies sending themproducts for free in the hopethat they‟ll be advertised intheir videos. In order to comply with OFT guidelines many of these „gurus‟ put disclaimers in the information box. Tanya Berr attracts over 2 million visitors every month to her tutorials
There has clearly been some thought into restricting the use oftwitter and other social networking endorsements, with the OFT andthe ASA. However, celebrities are still managing to get away withthese endorsements with little consequences.
A spokesperson confirmed that the celebrities including Rio Ferdinand and „The emergence of Cher Lloyd had been paid celebrity tweets has to post the twitter adverts. raised a number of issues for the ASA… …whose role it is to ensure all adverts are legal, decent, honest and truthful. These include how we determine whether or not a tweet is an ad in the(Barnett 2012: The Telegraph [online]) first place.
This shows that restrictions are somethingthat the ASA and OFT need to think aboutmore. On Twitter, you are only allowed to post140 characters at a time, making a disclaimerdifficult at times. Restrictions on Twitter need to be tightened as many celebrities and brands are getting away with misleading the public, although restrictions will have to consider the freedom of speech of the celebrity.
Barnett, Emma (2012) „Twitter users angered by Rio Ferdinands Snickers adverts.‟ The Telegraph[online]. Wednesday 25 January. Available from:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9036278/Twitter-users-angered-by-Rio-Ferdinands-Snickers-adverts.html[Accessed 29 January].Associated Press (2011) „Tweeting for money: The Twitter checks cashed by celebrities like KhloeKardashian ($8,000), Charlie Sheen ($9,500) and even jailbird LiLo ($3,500).‟ Daily Mail [online].Thursday 3 November. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2057268/Twitter-endorsements-Khloe-Kardashian-costs-8k-Charlie-Sheen-9-5k-Lindsay-Lohan-3-5k.html[Accessed 27 January].Hegarty, Joanne (2011) „The Only Way Is FREEBIES! But Twitter plugs from TOWIE and Made In Chelseastars could end in court.‟ Daily Mail [online]. Sunday 18 October. Available from:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038604/Twitter-freebie-plugs-TOWIE-Made-In-Chelsea-stars-end-court.html[Accessed 27 January].Office of Fair Trading (2010) „Press releases 2010 - OFT secures promotional blogging disclosures.‟Office of Fair Trading [online]. Available from: http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2010/134-10[Accessed 29 January].Crone, T., Alberstat, P., Cassels, T., Overs, E. (eds) (2002) Law and the Media. 4th edn. Oxford: FocalPress.Burr, T. (2011) „Ckarisonic Mia Review‟, YouTube, 19th December. Available at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq-pG0aojSY&list=UUrIIH7yHQugaUuoTZDoEUuQ&index=14&feature=plcpFriedman, Hershey, H. , Friedman, L. (1979) „Endorser Effectiveness by Product Type‟ Journal ofAdvertising Research, 19 (5): 63-71.