Guide to Laws about Reviews and/or Endorsing Products or Services
If you are a blogger or influencer, you need to know the rules about reviewing or endorsing products.
Do I need to disclose my relationship to products I review or endorse?
If you provide reviews, rankings, endorsements, testimonials, blog posts, or any other type of content about a company from which you have a financial or familial connection, you must disclose it to your readers.
In particular, if you have an affiliate marketing relationship with a company (they give you a cut for sales you direct to them) and you publish a review or endorsement of that company’s products, you must disclose that affiliate relationship, or any significant connection you may have to that company.
According to the FCC, “When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed. For example, when an endorser who appears in a television commercial is neither represented in the advertisement as an expert nor is known to a significant portion of the viewing public, then the advertiser should clearly and conspicuously disclose either the payment or promise of compensation prior to and in exchange for the endorsement or the fact that the endorser knew or had reason to know or to believe that if the endorsement favored the advertised product some benefit, such as an appearance on television, would be extended to the endorser.”
See FTC guidance on testimonials and endorsements.
Do I need to disclose if I only received free product?
Yes, if you received a free item from a company with the expectation that you would write a review of the product, you must disclose this fact.
How should the disclosure be made?
Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the
endorser. Endorsement disclosures must be clearly stated and placed near every endorsement or other content related to such companies. You can’t hide this disclosure or make the user scroll or click a link to view it on another page.
Examples of proper disclosure: Including the phrase “paid endorsement” or “sponsored endorsement” at the top of a blog post, or in a social media post.
Who is considered an endorser? What is considered an endorsement?
An endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.