FTC offers mixed message on celebrity endorsements

« Hollywood Docket: Studios defeat antitrust claim; free speech vs. campaign finance law; off 'The Deep End' | Main | 'Avatar' tops most-pirated movie list »

FTC offers mixed message on celebrity endorsements

Mon Jan 11, 2010 @ 11:12AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Gwyneth-Paltrow It's no secret that celebrities get perks for being famous. Free clothes, cutting-edge technology, tickets to hot events.

Question of the day: Should the FTC give celebrities more latitude than non-celebrities in disclosing these perks?

Ever since the federal agency announced it would be cracking down on advertisers and endorsers who aren't completely transparent in revealing in-kind payments, bloggers have been up-in-arms over the new guidelines.

One example is a writer for Daily Finance who figured he had a gotcha when he reported in December that actress Gwyneth Paltrow probably didn't pay for a night at the La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, before lavishing the hotel with praise in her digital newsletter. Paltrow didn't disclose whether her night of Morocco high-life was provided free of charge.

We let out a huge yawn upon seeing this news. But the writer followed up on his "scoop" and got Rich Cleland, the associate director of the FTC's advertising division, to address the situation by suggesting that celebrities should be treated differently.

"Celebrity endorsements are a little different than person-on-the-street endorsements," he said. "Would consumers understand that celebrities are always getting free stuff? It's a factual question."

We're a little confused. In announcing its changes in October, the FTC specifically addressed celebrities and said they "have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media."

That seems clear enough, no? Now the FTC seems to be suggesting a possible change of heart.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference FTC offers mixed message on celebrity endorsements:

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

The Hollywood Reporter
Contact: Patrice Atiee at 323.525.2014 or [email protected]

The Hollywood Reporter is Your Complete Film Resource

The columnists and bloggers who write for The Hollywood Reporter have their collective finger on the pulse of the boxoffice. Martin Grove and the other THR columnists deliver their thoughts on the film industry in an uncompromised style. Subscribe to THR today and get the latest views from these film experts and get the latest movie reviews as well.