Influencer marketing, endorsements, testimonials: food for thought in light of the most recent initiatives by the Italian authorities

On 6 August 2018 the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) announced a second moral suasion action towards influencers, bloggers and, more in general, so called "influencer marketing".

Influencer marketing means users (usually bloggers, influencers, testimonials) endorsing a product or brand by diffusing photos, videos, comments or other contents through their blogs, vlogs, social media accounts, to generate an advertising effect towards such product or brand, often against a consideration or in execution of a contract.

A first action of moral suasion was put in place by the AGCM in mid-2017 and was directed against Italian influencers at the highest level (by number of followers), as well as against some endorsed companies.

The more recent second action consisted of sending a series of cease and desist (C&D) letters pursuant to Article 4 AGCM Resolution April 1, 2015, no. 25411. It focused on "minor" influencers, that is. on influencers with a number of followers which is "not very high", although still relevant.

The AGCM clearly felt the need to continue and extend its monitoring activity, taking note of a phenomenon which, although of common knowledge, still presents uncertainties and issues in practice.

The critical issue is relates to the transparency and recognizability of advertising messages conveyed by influencers, bloggers through the testimonials on their social media accounts, a requirement which is set forth by the Legislative Decree no. 206/2005 (Italian Consumer Code), by the Legislative Decree no. 145/2007 on misleading advertising, as well as by the Code of Advertising self-Regulation (Code).

The AGCM reaffirmed some well-established principles: that the advertising purpose of any published content must be clearly recognizable by consumers and that this goal can be achieved by inserting appropriate warnings right after the name of the brand in a post, such as "advertising", "#sponsored", "#advertising", "#paidinsertion" or "#productsuppliedby", where the product has been provided free of charge.

Read more about the measures and what they mean for influencers in the full article on MediaWrites

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