Kardashians Accused of Failing to Keep up With FTC Regulations

The Kardashians are making headlines again, this time for allegedly violating the Federal Trade Commission guidelines on endorsements and testimonials in advertising.

After reviewing the Instagram accounts of the Kardashian daughters, Truth in Advertising sent a letter to matriarch Kris Jenner and the family's lawyer stating: "We have found that members of the Kardashian/Jenner family are engaged in deceptive marketing campaigns for various companies by routinely creating and publishing sponsored social media posts for such companies without clearly and conspicuously disclosing that they are paid representatives of those companies or that the posts are advertisements."

After checking out the accounts for Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian as well as Kylie and Kendall Jenner, the group found "a plethora of posts that do not clearly or conspicuously disclose their relationships with the companies being promoted in the posts as is required by federal law."

For example, Kylie Jenner posted a picture of her holding a Fit Tea product with the caption "using @fittea before my shoots is my favorite." Her Instagram post does not indicate that it is an advertisement, although the same picture is featured on Fit Tea's Instagram account.

In addition to Fit Tea, Truth in Advertising included a list of 27 companies—such as Estee Lauder and Puma—that were featured in similarly questionable posts by the Kardashian/Jenner sisters. The group requested that the posts be corrected to disclose material connections between the family and the companies.

When the Kardashian's failed to satisfactorily respond, Truth in Advertising made a formal complaint to the FTC based on the allegedly deceptive native advertising by the family. At the same time, the Kardashian's corrected 21 transgressions to include "#ad" at the beginning of the caption, they edited 6 to include an ad hashtag at the end of the caption, and they removed 4 from publication.

However, 75 others remained unchanged and 2 were "insufficiently edited" by adding "#spon" at the end of the post captions, Truth in Advertising told the FTC. "The willingness of the Kardashians/Jenners to alter their Instagram posts … suggests that they would also fix other similarly deceptive posts if permitted to do so by the other companies they endorse," the complaint said. "As such, it is apparent that the issue is with the companies, who continue to flagrantly ignore the law." The group also noted that an additional 20 ads were found lacking disclosures during a second review.

The letter suggested the FTC take "appropriate enforcement action against those companies and individuals found to be violating the law," with an eye toward making sure "that all future social media posts promoting companies are properly and clearly labeled as advertisements."

The family's attorney informed Truth in Advertising that the women are "working diligently" to fix the challenged posts and "will make every effort" to ensure that future posts will include clear and conspicuous disclosures where appropriate.

The letter suggested the FTC take "appropriate enforcement action against those companies and individuals found to be violating the law," with an eye toward making sure "that all future social media posts promoting companies are properly and clearly labeled as advertisements."

To read the Truth in Advertising letter to Kris Jenner, click here.

To read the Truth in Advertising complaint to the FTC, click here.

Why it matters: Whether the FTC elects to launch an investigation into the high-profile celebrity family and its social media posts remains to be seen. Truth in Advertising's challenge is not the family's first run-in with this issue. Last year, pharmaceutical company Duchesnay received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration after a Kim Kardashian Instagram post included a photo of the reality star holding a bottle of its morning sickness medication and a post that read in part: "OMG. Have you guys heard about this?"

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