November 11 2016
New rules for bloggers and incluencers
On October 3, 2016, the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (1) (the “Code”) was amended to officially regulate sponsored testimonials, including those of bloggers and other influencers (2) .
More specifically, the Interpretation Guideline #5 – Testimonials, Endorsements and Reviews (3) (the “Guideline”) was added. Under this new Guideline, all testimonials, endorsements, reviews and other similar representations must disclose any “material connection” between the testimonial and the sponsor (4) . This connection must be clearly and prominently disclosed in close proximity to the representation (5) .
The Code now defines what a “material connection” is: mainly, it is any connection between an entity providing a product or service and a person making a statement that “may affect the weight or credibility of the representation” (6) . This connection includes benefits and incentives, such as monetary compensations, free products, discounts, gifts or even contest entries (7) .
The Guideline gives an exception when the “material connection” is one that consumers would reasonably expect to exist, for example, when a celebrity endorses a product in a television advertisement (8) .
This new Guideline applies to all media and, therefore, covers testimonials and reviews from bloggers or influencers on social networks.
In case of non-compliance with the new rules, Advertising Standards Canada (“ASC”), a national not-for-profit advertising self-regulatory body in charge of the application of the Code, will ask violators to cease their “illegal” practices. If they refuse, ASC will ask the social medium on which the publication can be found to block any recurrence.
(1) Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (2016), available online: http://www.adstandards.com/en/standards/canCodeOfAdStandards.pdf (the “Code”)
(2) An influencer is an individual followed by many people on social networks
(3) Interpretation Guideline #5 – Testimonials, Endorsements, Reviews (2016), available online: http://www.normespub.com/en/Standards/canCodeOfAdStandards.pdf (the “Guidelines”)
(4) Interpretation Guideline #1
(5)Interpretation Guideline #2
(6) Code, s. 1.
(7) Code, s. 1.
(8) Interpretation Guideline #1.