Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made charges against Warner Brothers for failing to adequately disclose information about a video game “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor”, and also failing to disclose full information about the engagement aspects of the product.
The entertainment company had paid thousands of dollars to influencers on social media in order to create hype about the game on platforms such as YouTube. The influencers and video game enthusiasts popular on YouTube were offered free advance-release versions of this game and thereby bribed to post positive gameplay videos on the channel. The company was also accused of asking the influencers to make their recaps as positive as possible and to not disclose any bugs in the same. These paid campaigns even created over 5.5 million views of the videos.
The latest update is that the final order has been made, and Warner Brothers is banned from such disclosures in the future and is banned from misrepresenting information and sponsored content that include gameplay videos as objective and independent opinions of video game enthusiasts or social media influencers. Further, they are required to make sure that ‘influencers’ (such as PewDiePie) are adequately educated on sponsorship disclosures. The company will face severe penalties if and when they fail to make similar disclosures in the future. In the case of non-compliance, termination or withholding of payment from influencers or ad agencies will result.
Going forward, Warner Brothers will have to maintain five years’ documentation in order to show records of compliance with the terms, and will have to abide by these terms up until November 17, 2036.
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