The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is cracking down on celebrities who are paid to endorse products on blogs and through Tweets.
Numerous celebrities could be facing court action over claims that they are endorsing luxury products on sites such as Twitter without making a declaration that they are being paid to do so. Such activity is considered to be a possible breach of the consumer protection laws laid down in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The OFT said online advertising and marketing, including writing about products on blogs and in Tweets, that did not disclose paid-for promotions were deceptive under fair trading rules.
The OFT is believed to be investigating secret deals made between celebrities and manufacturers of luxury goods. While it has declined to discuss current investigations it is believed the watchdog will be contacting personalities involved in the coming weeks.
In the US, celebrity paid-for blogging and Tweeting is commonplace and is a huge industry. It is believed that celebrities such as rapper Snoop Dogg can make as much as £1,900 per Tweet when endorsing products.
However, in the US such online endorsements must contain the words “ad” or “spon” to make it clear that it has been paid for. There is currently no such requirement in the UK.
Last year a PR company was taken to court after it was found to be paying bloggers to write positive reviews of its clients’ products. It was the first case of its kind. The OFT has now launched an investigation into commercial blogging network Handpicked Media.