I’ve been noticing a video getting a lot of coverage in the media (over 3.4 million views since it was posted yesterday) – probably because it is something that has not been done before, it includes technology that is currently popular, and it involves a well know social media influencer.
But I am perplexed – why are there no disclosures as required by the FTC? Both the associated brand and the influencer are both based in the US.
I wrote earlier this year about social media disclosures in relation to YouTubers. The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Warner Bros. over claims that the publisher failed to disclose that it had paid prominent YouTubers for positive coverage of one of its video games. You can read about the case in this article.
While the campaign by Casey Neistat and Samsung for the Holidays is different to that of Warner Bros., the FTC had commented that brands should educate influencers regarding sponsorship disclosures, monitoring sponsored influencer videos for compliance, and, under certain circumstances, terminating or withholding payment from influencers or ad agencies for non-compliance.
When you watch the end of the video which features Neistat dressed as Father Christmas and pulled along the snow and fling in the air powered by a drone, there is a reference in the video that Samsung are sponsoring the video. You discover that there will also be a 360 video created using the footage filmed with a Samsung camera. But that is not referenced at all in the post on YouTube as you will see in the screen shot below.
See the reference to the sponsorship at the end of the video in the animation below.
Neistat also posted a video about the Human Flying Drone story on YouTube – but like the main video, there was no overt reference of the sponsorship – just a comment on the YouTube post to say that they were doing a Holiday video with him.
Nestat also had a YouTube influencer and videographer Jesse Wellens with him, involved in filming the content – the ‘behind the scenes video on YouTube‘ created by Wellens has no reference on the YouTube post of the sponsorship by Samsung for the film – he does mention it in the video.
On the main video if you follow the FTC guidelines you would expect there to be reference to the sponsorship by Samsung at the beginning of the video.
The FTC state in their guidelines series of frequently asked questions:
It’s easy for consumers to miss disclosures in the video description. Many people might watch the video without even seeing the description page, and those who do might not read the disclosure. The disclosure has the most chance of being effective if it is made clearly and prominently in the video itself. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have disclosures in both the video and the description.
It’s more likely that a disclosure at the end of a video will be missed, especially if someone doesn’t watch the whole thing. Having it at the beginning of the review would be better. Having multiple disclosures during the video would be even better. Of course, no one should promote a link to your review that bypasses the beginning of the video and skips over the disclosure. If YouTube has been enabled to run ads during your video, a disclosure that is obscured by ads is not clear and conspicuous.
There is no question that it is a great video.
It includes lots of shots through the landscape of Finland where it was filmed.
Neistat is even lifted into the air by the drone.
You can see the Samsung 360 camera that was used to film the accompanying 360 video in the screen capture below.
Dressed as Father Christmas, Neistat is lifted into the air as if he were flying, thanks to the purpose built drone which took almost a year to develop we are told in one of the behind the scenes videos..
Towards the end of the video Neistat snowboards off the top of a ridge and then flies across a house.
I would have anticipated that Neistat would have complied with disclosures as he will be fully aware of them.
I did check the posts Neistat made about the Holiday drone video on Facebook and Twitter.
But there was no disclosure of the sponsorship by Samsung for the video.
So remember, if you partner with influencers and provide sponsorship for their projects, make sure that you check that they comply with disclosure requirements.
You would not want your Holiday marketing campaign over shadowed by a case being raised against you with the FTC or which ever is the body responsible for governance about social media disclosures in which ever country you are in.
I wonder what CNN think about the approach Neistat took with this campaign – after all they recently invested in the technology and talent associated with his app Beme to help them attract a millennial audience.
Images in this article are from screen shots of the associated videos and social media channels where the videos are posted about this campaign.
Additional Resources To Help You In Relation To Social Media Disclosures When Working With Influencers
If you are in the US you can read more about the FTC guidelines about endorsements and ensure that you are not in breach and therefore putting your business into a position of potential reputation risk. This article covers a lot of legal cases that you will find of assistance to review.
If you are unclear about how to integrate influencer marketing into your campaigns, you can schedule a discovery session with me here.