This week OFT (Office of Fair Trading) announced the news of an impending crackdown on the celebrity use of twitter to unashamedly promote brands/products. Celebrities named and shamed in the press this week include pop princess Lily Allen, tweeting about a multitude of products from vodka brands to technology and actress/model Liz Hurley frequently tweeting about the product benefits of the Estee Lauder make-up range.
But just how much do we really think this announcement will deter Britain’s publicity/money hungry celebrities and should social media really be regulated under different rules to those used for more traditional media channels?
If we apply the rules of transparency to print media for example, are we going to see all celebrity interviews followed with ‘Colleen Rooney was paid to say this by Littlewoods’? More fundamentally, do these new regulations display an assumption from the OFT that an online audience is more naive/susceptible to celebrity endorsement than other media channels, which in my humble PR opinion could not be further from the truth.
It will be interesting to see which celebrities adhere to the new regulations over the coming months but if this week’s chatter on twitter is anything to go by, it looks as if they’re planning to put up a collective two-fingers to the rules.