Tougher times for influencers on the horizon.

Influencer marketing becomes popular in Italy.

Over the last years, ’influencer marketing’ has increasingly drawn significant advertising budgets from all kind of businesses.
Hence, the Italian House inserted into its agenda a bill with measure to govern ‘influencer marketing’ performed on social media. Now the Press informs about another initiative, relevant to marketers making use of this promotional strategy.

Influencers face increased scrutiny from a local watchdog.

The Market and Fair Competition Commissioner - the local Anti-Trust Authority, also in charge of preventing and pursuing misleading advertising practices – started focusing its attention on influencer marketing performed on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Myspace. The Authority seems to be concerned about social media VIPs, with a huge number of followers, showing their support or endorsement of certain products, services or brands without revealing – in a clear and conspicuous way – the promotional intent of their conduct. The Authority feels that in absences of transparent and adequate information about the promotional purpose, followers frequently tend to perceive influencers’ posts not as ‘commercial communication’, but rather as a personal experience report, presented in an everyday context and therefore not immediately identifiable as a business activity.  

Influencer marketing and transparency requirements.

Thus, the Authority has decided to address its concern about lack of transparency. Given the impact any formal intervention could easily cause to businesses allocated in an online environment, the Commissioner preferred to exercise a sort of ‘moral suasion’ towards some of the most prominent influencers and several renown brands promoted on social media in a way deemed as inadequate. To the purpose, the Authority has sent them a letter to remind the crucial importance of appropriate disclosure requirements. Such letter is said to indicate also examples as to the wording the Authority would consider as a proper fulfillment of disclosure requirements, e.g. #advertising, #sponsored, #paid content or - with respect to products (even if made available for free) - #product offered by (together with the indication of the brand).   

Be careful when using influencers for your marketing!

Marketers using influencers on social media platforms are therefore well advised to show sensitiveness towards the Authority’s “suggestions”.  Otherwise they could find themselves exposed to fines and other sanctions the Authority is entitled to apply to prevent/stop misleading commercial communication.