OOLY, LLC Social Media Endorsement Policy
Purpose and Scope
OOLY, LLC, a California limited liability company (“OOLY”), is committed to transparency and honesty in all of its advertising messages and promotional communications with consumers. One of the most common ways to advertise and market products and services in social media is to use third party endorsements. Like other types of advertising, endorsements must be truthful and not misleading. Consumers must understand when a social media endorsement is sponsored by us.
This Policy applies to all agencies, independent contractors, speakers, writers, bloggers, talent, influencers, and any other individual or entity engaged in promotional communications on behalf of OOLY on social media or other non-traditional media.
Defining an Endorser Covered by This Policy
An individual or entity communicating on social media or other non-traditional media is covered by this Policy if its promotional messages about OOLY or our products and brands are sponsored by us (“Sponsored Endorser”). If the individual or entity is acting independently, it is not subject to this Policy.
A message is sponsored by us if we have a material connection with the individual or entity. A material connection is a tie to us which if known to consumers might make consumers question the credibility of the endorser or materially affect the weight consumers place on the endorsement. It puts the endorsers independence in question. For example, OOLY creates a material connection if we do any of the following either directly or through an advertising agency, public relations firm, or other third party:
- Hire an agency to blog, post, or serve as a community manager on our behalf (both the agency and its employees then become Sponsored Endorsers).
- Enter into an agreement with an individual to blog or post.
- Pay an individual to blog or post.
- Provide free accommodations or travel to an individual for a company event or experience.
- Provide discounts, sweepstakes entries, or other incentives to an individual.
- Provide an individual with free prizes for giveaways or sweepstakes on social media platforms.
- Provide an individual with free samples to review on social media platforms.
- Provide an individual with free samples after that person has blogged or posted independently, especially if providing the free samples creates the expectation of additional free samples (which makes the individual a Sponsored Endorser going forward, not retroactively).
- Engage affiliate marketers to advertise, blog, endorse, or sell on our behalf (making the affiliates and their employees Sponsored Endorsers).
OOLY can turn our everyday consumers into Sponsored Endorsers by:
- Establishing a consumer marketing program that gives members free products, coupons, discounts, or other benefits.
- Providing incentives to consumers to review our products.
- Requiring sweepstakes or contest participants to post photos of our products/brands as part of their entries.
This list, though comprehensive, is not exhaustive. Check with OOLY for any questions about whether a material connection may be formed with a third party.
Sponsored Endorsers Must Comply with Our Standards of Conduct
With respect to promotional statements or other claims made on social media platforms and on other non-traditional media about OOLY and our products and brands, Sponsored Endorsers must adhere to the following principles:
- They may only make statements that:
- reflect their honest beliefs, opinions, or experiences; and
- are transparent about their connection to us.
- They may not:
- make deceptive or misleading claims to consumers about our products or services, or our competitor’s products or services;
- make any claims about our products or services, or our competitor’s products or services, that are not backed up by evidence;
- disclose any of our confidential information;
- engage in any communication that is defamatory or infringes upon the intellectual property, privacy, or publicity rights of others;
- make offensive comments that have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating or hostile environment;
- use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or other offensive language; and
- make any comments or post any content that in any way promotes unsafe activities that could lead to an unsafe situation involving OOLY’s consumers or other individuals.
- They must adhere to:
- any additional guidelines provided by OOLY, such as product or brand-specific program requirements.
Sponsored Endorsers must also refrain from creating fake followers or engagement on social media platforms, such as:
- Buying followers.
- Using bots to grow audience size by automating account creation, following, commenting, and liking.
Sponsors Must Comply With FTC Rules
When posting about our company or products, Sponsored Endorsers must comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s (the “FTC”) Guides Concerning Endorsements and Testimonials (“Endorsement Guides”), for which links are provided in Appendix B.
Disclosing a Material Connection Clearly and Conspicuously
When posting about our company or products, OOLY requires Sponsored Endorsers to disclose their material connection to us clearly and conspicuously. If a Sponsored Endorser has multiple material connections to us, the full extent should be disclosed.
This policy does not require specific language to disclose a material connection, but Sponsored Endorsers must communicate the material connection effectively so that consumers:
- Can easily find it.
- Can easily understand it.
- Obtain sufficient information from it to make a judgment about the credibility of the endorsement.
Consult Appendix A to this Policy for examples of language that successfully communicate a material connection and language that does not do so.
To ensure a disclosure is clear and conspicuous, appropriate consideration should be given to the limitations and nature of the platform being used. Sponsored Endorsers must:
- Ensure the disclosure is:
- well-placed so it can be easily noticed; and
- prominent so it can be easily read.
- Avoid burying the disclosure:
- in a bio;
- below the fold;
- in a hyperlink, like a Legal or Disclosure button; or
- among a series of hashtags, other disclosures, or general copy.
- Superimpose a material connection disclosure on images, including on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. The disclosure should be:
- easy to notice and read in the time that followers have to look at the image; and
- well-contrasted against the image.
- In video posts, including podcasts:
- place the disclosure both within the video itself, and in the description of the video; and
- display the disclosure long enough for a consumer to be able to read and understand it.
- In Instagram posts, disclose a material connection before the More button.
- For a live stream, repeat the disclosure as needed to ensure that consumers see it or keep it posted throughout the live stream.
- If the posts are part of an online chat or tweets, or a similar thread, make the disclosure clearly in the first entry into the conversation thread, and then add to subsequent entries at 3-10 entry intervals depending on the media and the length of the thread.
- Disclose the material connection even when just tagging a brand/product in a photo.
When a Sponsored Endorser Fails to Comply with This Policy
OOLY may correct any failure to comply with this policy by a Sponsored Endorser, including any failure to disclose a material connection or communication of any unsubstantiated claims, by taking one or more of the following actions:
- if an agency or other third party manages or is otherwise involved with the Sponsored Endorser relationship, alert the third party to the issue;
- if needed, require the Sponsored Endorser to promptly make the correction or post the correction on the Sponsored Endorsers post or page directly;
- withhold payment from the Sponsored Endorser; or
- terminate the relationship with the Sponsored Endorser.
BEST PRACTICES FOR DISCLOSURE LANGUAGE
As stated in the Policy, Sponsored Endorsers are required to disclose material connections to OOLY. Listed below is sample disclosure language. Alternative but substantively comparable language may also be used where appropriate. Although OOLY does not require specific disclosure language, it does prohibit certain hashtags and other disclosure practices specifically found by the FTC as insufficient. The goal for a material connection disclosure is to ensure it is readily seen and understood by consumers and accurately describes our relationship with the Sponsored Endorser.
Statements about the material connection should identify the nature of the connection, such as:
- For receipt of free products:
- I received free products from OOLY;
- OOLY sent me free products to review;
- OOLY gave me this product to try; or
- Thanks OOLY for the free products.
- For paid Sponsored Endorsers:
- I was paid by OOLY;
- I was hired by OOLY to post about its products;
- I was hired by OOLY to perform services;
- I have partnered with OOLY to promote its products; or
- I am a paid brand ambassador for OOLY.
- For incentivized consumer reviews:
- I received a [sweepstakes entry/discount/coupon] for making this review.
- I am part of OOLY’s program that gives me free [samples/coupons/discounts]; or
- Reviewers on this page received a [sweepstakes entry/discount/coupon] for making their reviews.
- For other material connections:
- Paid ad; or
- Ad: (this would go at the beginning of the statement to indicate the statement is an ad).
If using a hashtag to identify a material connection, make it unambiguous, such as:
- #OOLY ambassador.
- #OOLY endorser.
- #OOLY partner.
Avoid ambiguous hashtags to identify material connections, such as:
- #thanks OOLY.
- #team OOLY.
Additionally, if a Sponsored Endorser has posted a Disclosure and Relationships Statement section on their blog, website, profile page, or similar site, the statement should:
- Fully disclose how the endorser is working with us.
- Disclose how the endorser works with other companies generally.
- List any conflicts of interest that may affect the credibility of the sponsored or paid reviews.
FTC ENDORSEMENT GUIDES AND RELATED INFORMATION
With respect to promotional messages, photos, or other communications made on social media platforms about OOLY and our products, all Sponsored Endorsers must comply with the FTC’s Guides Concerning Endorsements and Testimonials (https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-16/chapter-I/subchapter-B/part-255 ).
To better understand your responsibilities under the Endorsement Guides, you must also review:
- The FTC's Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking (https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking).
- FTC: The Do's and Don'ts for Social Media Influencers (https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2017/09/csgo-lotto-owners-settle-ftcs-first-ever-complaint-against-individual-social-media-influencers).
- FTC: Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers (https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/disclosures-101-social-media-influencers).
- FTC: Do you endorse things on social media? (https://www.ftc.gov/media/71405).