Getting from Lodz to Warsaw by car is not a problem – pleasant, yet a bit tedious one-and-a-half- hour journey. Getting to the capital center from its suburbs is, however, quite a challenge which I had to face up to recently, on March 13, on my trip to the I <3 Influencer conference. And before you ask – yes, I got there on time. Aroused by the morning coffee, ready to absorbe new knowledge, I sat in a comfortable cinema chair and with high expectations, I joined the event organised by Sprawny Marketing.
One of the most exciting issues raised at the conference was the case of influencer marketing legal regulations. Regulations that… don’t exist in Poland. Unfortunately, as it usually happens in our country, the law often fails to keep up with fast-track development, especially when it comes to the issues affecting our virtual reality. As consumers, we are all regularly hoaxed by influencers. The thing is that we, social media users, are mainly aware of this. Posts that immediately suggest sponsored content are so common that we don’t even discuss them. Which influencer would voluntarily publish pics of products on daily basis, praising their unusual properties and exceptional quality with great joviality? Well…we see it, but the problem is our passivity which feeds them – a few negative comments here and there are easy to handle in a situation where at the end of the day the number of zeros on the account fits the expectations.
In this situaition, it would be enough to follow the United States (The FTC’s Endorsement Guides and The ASA’s Endorsement Guides) or Great Britain (CMA Guidelines), where social media advertising, legal regulations have already been introduced. The Germans went one step further: our western neighbours decided that influencer ads should be regulated by:
- The Suppression of Unfair Competition Act
- The Telemedia Act
- The Broadcasting Act
An obvious proof that it can be done.
However, Polish regulations are not very specific and state that “action aimed at creating consumers’ impression that the advertising message is neutral information and thus concealing the promotional nature of the advertising campaign is an act of unfair competition, regulated by art. 16.1.4, The Act of Suppression of Unfair Competition and constitutes a practice infringing collective consumer interests as defined in art. 23a of The Act of Protection of Competition and Consumers. Unfortunately, there is no clear information here on how the sponsored content would be separated from the rest, so that the user would not have the slightest doubt that the article they have read is paid content.
What’s more, the laws cover only the press, and thus mainly large corporations. In this situation, we have a specific case, when the smallest ones (bloggers, vloggers, etc.) stand a bit like “above the law.” Since content published on YouTube or Instagram by individuals usually appears irregularly, you can not connect them to the definition of the press, which is characterised by periodicity. The introduction of legal solutions would support the fight against practices destructive for the entire 21st century marketing: fake influencers, fake followers and unlimited sponsored content. Just think about it: wouldn’t it be better to take an idyllic photo with a book, with „incidentally” placed car of a popular brand, and mark it with clear information that this is an advertisement? It would be enough e.g. to add the information in the hashtag (#ad, #advertising, etc.). Unfortunately, the very concept of “hashtag” in Polish law does not work. Therefore, adding it ould be a nice change trigger.
When it comes to the law changes, one more question arises – can influencers lose on intruducing regulations? The answer is simple: quality influencers will only see the positive aspects in this law evolution. Why? Valuable content is tanable and transparency will always be appreciated as an indispensable element of credibility.
And what do you think about this? I’m curious of your opinions. Leave them in the comments!