First video killed the radio star, then television took on cinema. Now we can just watch or listen to whatever we want on online platforms, especially YouTube, for free!
And so, companies now know it may be a better idea to advertise online… but be warned, there is a way of going to far.
Warner Brothers has come under fire for an incident in 2014 that involved giving money to various YouTube celebrities, including PewDiePie, to help promote their then upcoming game, “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.”
While online advertising is not technically a crime, regardless how much you want to blow up Flo from the insurance commercials, their issue was that Warner Brothers had specifically asked said celebrities not to label their videos as promoted content, which is a fancy way of saying advertising, but only mentioned it in the description. Reportedly, some of the YouTubers did not even disclose the fact that they were paid to do this in the first place.
Because of this, viewers may have not realized the positive reviews of the game were paid for. Added to that, sources indicate that the YouTubers were not allowed to give negative reviews.
“Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns,” said Jessica Rich, who serves as the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
What will be Warner Brothers’ fate for the incident? Reportedly, they got let off with a warning. Although an order from the FTC claims that they could risk civil penalties or even a contempt charge in federal court if they attempt this again. So yeah, just don’t do the things you weren’t supposed to do from the get-go.
Don’t you wish traffic court worked out like this?