New rules for online influencers
As an automotive player you obviously want your brand, products or services to be well-known by the public but also more specifically by selected target groups. To do so many automotive players heavily invest in 'influencer marketing'.
To date there are no specific legal rules in Belgium aimed at protecting consumers against misleading influencer marketing practices. That is why the Belgian Advertising Council recently created some guidelines after close consultation with stakeholders in the advertising sector.
These new guidelines only apply if your online influencer marketing meets the following cumulative conditions:
- The online influencer receives a consideration in kind or in cash to communicate about your brand, product or service. The use of your product free of charge for a specified period (e.g. to drive a car for free for 6 months) can be a consideration in kind.
- The advertiser has significant control over the influencer’s communication (e.g. giving the influencer suggestions / instructions / guidelines for his/her communication or the advertiser’s approval is required).
Ensure that your online influencer marketing complies to the following new guidelines:
- The influencer’s communication needs to be clearly recognisable as a commercial communication. This can be achieved by:
- An explicit statement indicating that it is a commercial communication (e.g. “sponsored by…”, #promoted or #advertising). Make sure that the language and position of such statement can immediately be properly understood by the relevant target audience
- The context in which the online message appears
- Mentioning the brand or the logo hereby making it clear that it concerns a commercial communication (e.g. #AdvertisingToyota or #sponsored by Maserati)
- The influencer’s commercial communication needs to be fair, and cannot contain information or statements that are false or misleading. It should also not induce children into convincing their parents or other adults to purchase a product for them.
What if your influencer marketing does not comply to these guidelines? Not only the online influencer him/herself but also you and your marketing agency can be held responsible for non-compliance. In such event the “JEP” (the Belgian self-regulated disciplinary body of the advertising sector) may formally request you to change or cancel your non-compliant marketing campaign or even take actions to achieve this goal.