News today has broken that the OFT is launching an investigation into the shady practice of celebs endorsing products on twitter in exchange for cash.
Celebrity endorsement is nothing new in the world of PR. Over the years I’ve worked with a host of celebrities. From Atomic Kitten on the launch of Carmen Girls (secured front page of The Sun) to George Forman and his lean mean grilling machine (made everywhere). PRs, the media and the general public understand that a celeb can be all it takes to get the column inches they need or onto the right sofa.
The problem is – the rules of twitter are different. Followers of celebrities flocked to the medium to get some one on one time with their fave celeb. Twitter is direct, it cuts through the media bullshit and allows the general public to get to know the ‘real’ personality, what they like/don’t like, what turns them on/gets them cross.
When we find out that they’re being paid to sell us stuff – we feel cheated.
Although it could be argued that the general public should wise up to the fact their favoured celeb is taking cash for 140 character advertising messages, I agree with the OFT, full disclosure is needed. If this means flagging the message with ‘ad’ or ‘spon’, then so be it.