Customer Endorsements On Pinterest May Require Disclaimers

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We’ve talked about Twitter and Facebook here plenty of times, but what of Pinterest, the newest social media site that’s sweeping the nation? A board on the site was recently inspected by the National Advertising Division (“NAD”), and some important ground-rules were laid down for companies that advertise through Pinterest. One such company, Nutrisystem, set up a board called “Real Consumers, Real Success”, and invited users to post their own pictures and boast of their successful weight-loss achieved through Nutrisystem. Sounds like a good idea; getting fans to brag on behalf of your product.

After some analysis from the NAD, these “pinned” messages from users were deemed to be testimonials, though, and therefore subject to FTC guidelines. Claims like “Christine B. lost 46lbs on Nutrisystem” now have to be accompanied by disclaimers, saying that this kind of result is atypical, and most Nutrisystem users will experience less, if any, weight-loss. As the NAD report notes, with “appreciation”,  “Nutrisystem took immediate steps to provide such disclosures”, and so now on the board, each testimonial comes with the disclaimer:

[Results not typical. On Nutrisystem®, you can expect to lose at least 1-2 lbs per week. Individuals are remunerated. Weight lost on prior Nutrisystem® program.]

While that kind of language may soften the impact of the product somewhat, it’s noteworthy that Pinterest has quietly reached the kind of popularity where (a) regulatory agencies have to investigate it, and (b) it is now subject to the same rules as other social media sites.  Crowdsourcing can be a great way to advertise, but it’s important for the advertiser to keep an eye on what’s being put out there, and making sure everything stays above board.

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