Ciroc is under fire from a watchdog group that is accusing Diddy and other celebrity influencers for pushing the high-end vodka but not being transparent about financial exchanges to do so. The Truth In Advertising (TINA) group charges Ciroc and its parent company Diageo of using Diddy and other figures to push the product without disclosing the money behind these moves to the public.
A TINA.org investigation has amassed more than 1,700 Instagram posts from 50 different Ciroc influencers that have failed to reveal their material connection to the alcohol brand in a clear and conspicuous manner in violation of FTC law. More than a third of these posts come from Diddy, while others come from Ciroc influencers “hand-selected” by Diddy. Included in this group is “Guardians of the Galaxy” actress Mikaela Hoover, who posted the following Ciroc ad on Instagram earlier this year.
The FTC is clear in its endorsement guidelines that if someone has a material connection with a company — for example, a business or family relationship, a monetary payment, or the gift of a free product — they must disclose that connection since it could affect a consumer’s opinion about the product. For space-cramped platforms such as Instagram, the guidelines state that starting a post with AD: or #ad would likely be effective. (In regard to the placement of #cirocpartner in the post above, the FTC has said that placing a disclosure so far down in the caption of an Instagram post — in this case, on the sixth line — is easy to miss and unlikely to cut it. In fact, the disclosure does not even appear when viewed on the Instagram app without clicking “more.”) It is the responsibility of the marketer and the brand to advise influencers of their disclosure responsibilities and monitor their endorsements to ensure appropriate disclosures are made — a responsibility that Diageo has clearly shirked.
Diddy, born Sean Combs, does not own Ciroc but instead enjoys a 50-50 split in sales with its parent company.
Read TINA’s full investigation here.
For details on the complaint TINA has filed and handed to the Federal Trade Commission, click here.