Despite the influencer industry shifting — or as some say, dying — companies still spent $1.9 billion on the form of marketing, according to Instascreener. And as you've seen from the ubiquity of Tummy Tea alone, fraud is a part of the game. The Canadian government now wants to crack down on this activity; the Competition Bureau has announced it's prioritizing enforcement related to advertising and marketing in the digital space.
What are the rules? — Josephine Palumbo, deputy commissioner of the Bureau's Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate, announced the focus last month at the Canadian Institute’s 26th Annual Advertising and Marketing Law Conference, according to The Fashion Law. The Bureau has outlined best practices for disclosing a "material connection," which not only includes paid posts, but also free goods and services, discounts, and even familial or social connections. Posts within those parameters require prominent and clear disclosure, i.e. not below Instagram's "More" button or disguised with ambiguous language.
Further action — The Bureau also sent letters to nearly 100 brands and ad agencies in December to ensure compliance with the law. They emphasized that influencer reviews and testimonials had to be based on that person's real-life experience. Otherwise, it's bullshit or, legally speaking, false advertising.
With an Ad Standards study saying 35 percent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 have made a purchase based on an influencer's, the Bureau's decision to crack down should come as no surprise. But given how difficult it could be to vet an influencer's real experience, let alone sniff out what's behind a post, we'll see how successful the efforts will be.