UOKiK’s guidelines for Influencers and advertisers on marking sponsored posts – responsibilities and risks
According to the “Digital 2022” report by the Infomax Group, 27.20 million people in Poland actively use social media, and the average daily use of social media by each of these people is 1 hour 49 minutes. It comes as no surprise that social media is now one of the leading channels for running advertising campaigns – advertisers cooperate with influencers, take advantage of their large reach, contract them to advertise their products, and influencers guarantee to reach a huge number of their audience and potential customers at the same time.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) draws attention to the fact that advertising content shared on social media by online influencers is largely unlawful, as it does not properly inform that the published content is advertising and is published for remuneration. The lack of clear labeling of advertising content leads to a situation in which the viewer-consumer is often unable to independently assess whether the published content is an advertisement or a neutral influencer’s opinion.
It should be emphasized that creators (including online creators, influencers) who publish content regularly and in the mass media (social media) are subject to obligations under the Act on Combating Unfair Competition, the Press Law, as well as the Act on Providing Electronic Services.
According to Article 16(1)(4) of the Law on Combating Unfair Competition, it is prohibited to publish content that encourages the purchase of goods or services that gives the impression of neutral information. Due to the fact that advertising content published in social media by online creators does not meet this obligation and does not properly inform that it is published for remuneration, the OCCP is increasingly initiating proceedings against influencers and advertisers accusing them of violating the principles of fair advertising.
What are the obligations of influencers to publish advertisements?
- the advertisement must comply with the law and the rules of social intercourse,
- the advertisement must be clearly distinguished and marked in a way that makes it clear that it is not editorial material.
The UOKiK makes it clear that marking content with, for example, hashtags #ad #cooperation, etc. is not sufficient and may be considered as a misleading practice. This applies to content of any kind – in text, video and audio form. The recipient must be fully aware that he or she is watching an advertisement and not the author’s unbiased opinion.
How should advertising content be marked?
The marking must be clear and unambiguous, so it is suggested to mark the content with the information “sponsored post”, “advertisement”, “commercial collaboration”, as well as using the “Paid Partnership” tool.
Does the form of payment for publishing an advertisement matter?
The UOKiK points out that the form of remuneration is irrelevant – it can be financial, but also in-kind remuneration, such as by enabling the use of luxury products, vacations, etc.
What are the consequences of violating the rules of fair advertising?
The penalty for violating the obligation to fairly inform the consumer-consumer audience can be up to 10% of the turnover achieved in the year preceding the imposition of the penalty.
Who is liable for improper labeling of advertising content?
Responsibility for the correct labeling of advertising content on social media lies with both the entity publishing (the influencer) and the entity commissioning the publication (the advertiser).
The UOKiK, due to the prevalence of practices that violate consumers’ interests, is working on creating guidelines for creators who publish on social media to label sponsored content on social media. The recommendations are intended to develop mechanisms to ensure a fair and clear separation of advertising content from neutral and unbiased opinions. The recommendations are expected to be published soon.
We invite you to contact our specialists in the field of consumer protection in order to obtain comprehensive legal support.