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Update: FTC holds Warner Brothers accountable for online influencer deception
Warner Brothers will suffer penalties if they fail to make disclosures of sponsored content in the future.
Following a brouhaha in July after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) spanked Warner Brothers for promoting a product without full disclosure about their engagement with the brand, the governmental agency has announced that it has come to an agreement with the entertainment conglomerate.
In a unanimous Commission vote, Warner Brothers is now not allowed to state that sponsored content — including gameplay videos — represents objective and independent opinions of video game enthusiasts or influencers. Warner Brothers will also suffer penalties if they fail to make disclosures of sponsored content in the future.
In July, Warner Brothers made FTC’s headlines when it failed to properly disclose influencers’ relationships with the launch of “Middle Earth: Shaddow of Mordor,” a video game. The FTC did not have its participants disclose that the influencers, who were offered free advance-release versions of the game, were paid to post positive gameplay videos online. They were also told to make their recaps as positive as possible and were asked not to disclose bugs or glitches.
This seven-page consent order follows a public comment period, and the outcome is just as you’d expect — disclose, disclose, disclose — though WB will now have to retain five years’ documentation to show that they’ve been in compliance and will have to abide by the terms until November 17, 2036, among other stringencies. Of course, using WB illustrates how incredibly important it is for brands to play by the FTC’s rules.