Sony hired Deutsch LA’s marketing to help promote the PlayStation Vita back in 2012. In the campaign, the agency asked people to tweet about the gaming device using the Twitter hash tag “#GameChanger.” To help get the campaign more attention, the marketing company sent out an email to their employees asking them to begin using the hash tag as well. Unfortunately, the employees did not identify their tweets as being an advertisement.
This caught the attention of the FTC, who said that it violated their disclosure policies. They have warned marketers in the past that part of their advertising disclosure standards includes making sure any employees of any marketing company that is hired to represent a company must also disclose this information.
In this specific case, Deutsch has agreed to settle with the FTC, though they don’t admit any fault. They claim that they are only settling the case to avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle. The marketing firm does not represent Sony any more.
This is the first major case where the FTC has gone after companies for this type of thing on Twitter, but according to Mary Engle, a director at the FTC, it is not likely going to be the last. They appear to be looking to crack down on this type of thing.
She went on to say, “As marketers rely more and more on social media to promote their products, ad agencies, public relations firms and marketers alike must be clear about reviewers’ financial connections to the touted product.”
You can read more about this case, including the fact that it was settled on the FTC website, HERE.