Guideline on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices by Social Media Influencers
Updated: May 24, 2021
Authors: Hatice Ekici Tağa, Sümeyye Uçar, Bensu Özdemir
On 5 May 2021, The Turkish Ministry of Commerce published the Guideline on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices by Social Media Influencers (“the Guideline”), that was accepted by Commercial Board’s decision dated 4 May 2021 and numbered 2021/2. The Guideline determines the procedures and rules regarding the commercial advertisement made by social media influencers.
In this regard, Guideline defines the terms "social media" and "social media influencer", and the obligations of the social media influencer and the basic principles to be followed are explained. Pursuant to the Guideline, social media is “the real persons or legal entities that enable users to create, view or share content such as text, images, sound, location for social interaction on the internet”, and social media influencer is the person who performs marketing communications to ensure sale and rent of a product or service which belongs to them or the advertiser, inform or persuade the target audience through their social media account.
· Advertisements have to clear and distinguishable and covert advertisements are prohibited.
· In the posts that include financial gain and/or benefits such as free or discounted goods or services, social media influencers must clearly indicate this situation by using tags mentioned in the Guideline, such as #Advertisement, #Collaboration.
· Tags and explanations that are used;
o should be distinguishable from the colors and background of the post, and easily readable.
o should be in a shape and position that the consumers can understand that the post is a commercial advertisement at first glance.
o should be visible if the post includes additional tags or expressions.
o should be distinguishable by the consumers at the first glance, by considering the interface and technical features of the social media platform.
Use of Tags
1. Video Sharing Platforms (e.g., Youtube, Instagram TV, And Live Broadcasts)
At least one of the expressions mentioned in the Guideline such as “This video contains paid cooperation with the [advertiser]” should be provided verbally and in written form (i) constantly during the video, (ii) at the title of the video, or (iii) at the beginning part of the advertisement, without requiring the consumer to click on an additional section such as "read more".
2. Photo and Message Sharing Platforms (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
At least one of the expressions or tags mentioned in the Guideline such as “Provided by @[advertiser], or #Ad, #Collaboration should be provided with the introductory information of the advertiser such as name, trademark, trade name (i) in or under the photo and/or message, or (ii) at the title of the photo/message.
At least one of the expressions mentioned in the Guideline such as “This podcast contains advertisement by [advertiser]” should be provided verbally and in written form (i) at the beginning, (ii) in the middle and (iii) at the end of the podcast.
4. Platforms that the Content Might Be Viewed for a Limited Time (e.g., Snapchat And Instagram Stories)
At least one of the expressions or tags mentioned in the Guideline such as “Collaboration with @[advertiser]” or #Ad, #Sponsor should be provided with the introductory information of the advertiser such as name, trademark, trade name during the post.
Obligations of the Social Media Influencers
Pursuant to the Guideline, social media influencers;
1. Cannot share a post in a way that approves or creates a perception that the product is experienced by them regarding a product or service they have not yet experienced.
2. Cannot make a health-related statement regarding a product or service in violation of the legislations.
3. Cannot claim the unproven scientific research or a test result that is not based on objective, measurable, numeric data.
4. Cannot direct the consumer to products or services that are normally offered by physicians, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, and health institutions, or promote such products or services.
5. Cannot create the impression that they have purchased a product or service that has been gifted by an advertiser.
6. Cannot create the impression that they are merely a consumer during the time they are provided with financial gain and/or benefits such as free or discounted goods or services by the advertiser.
7. Has to state that the content has been photographically filtered, if any effect or filter application is used in a commercial advertisement.
8. Cannot systematically and collectively create or use fake or nonexistent identities to communicate about a product or service through social media.
Obligations of the Advertisers
Pursuant to the Guide, advertisers’ obligations are as below:
· Inform the influencers of the provisions of the Guideline
· Request from the influencers their compliance with the relevant laws and regulations
· Point out compliance with the obligations for third parties (if third parties area allowed to be used by the influencers)
· Make an effort for the compliance of the influencers and take measures against the violations
Advertisers, advertising agencies and each influencer are solely responsible for compliance with these provisions of the Guideline. However, advertisers shall not be able to avoid stated obligations with the ground that the obligations are under social media influencers’ own responsibility.
Since this Guideline, which is accepted as a principle decision by the Commercial Board, will constitute the basis for the investigations that will be carried out, it carries great importance to be in compliance with the obligations stated in the Guideline.