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Leave it to Nike to be the first.

At the end of June, the company became the first ever to have a Twitter campaign banned.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a British watchdog agency, banned Nike’s agreement with soccer stars Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere that would allow the players to tweet inspirational messages with the hashtag “#makeitcount.”

After receiving anonymous complaints and conducting an investigation, the ASA decided the tweets weren’t “obviously identifiable” as advertisements, which is a no-no on Twitter and other social channels.

“We considered that the Nike reference was not prominent and could be missed,” the ASA said. “We considered there was nothing obvious in the tweets to indicate they were Nike marketing communications.”

Like the ASA, the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has similar endorsement and advertisements guidelines established. In 2009, the agency published guides governing endorsements and testimonials, which “make it clear that celebrities 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.”

Here’s the point: These regulations are set in place to protect consumers, but they also protect your brand’s reputation. Transparency is not only ethical, but also respectful. Part of the beauty in social media platforms like Twitter is that they allow your brand to establish a close relationship with consumers. Don’t risk ruining that relationship by not disclosing your endorsers.

At the very least, always have endorsers use one of these hashtags: #spon or #paid or #ad. You can also create a “disclosures and relationships” section on your profile.

Let’s let Nike be the first and the only to have a Twitter campaign banned — be transparent.

image courtesy of Flickr user wjarrettc

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