Internet Ads

Published on September 4th, 2013

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Athlete Twitter Pages

Bryce Harper, 20-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals and the 2012 Rookie of the Year in the National League, has already starred in ads for car insurance and workout gear. But is Harper’s Twitter account one extended advertising stream? And are the ads clearly marked?

This tweet is clearly an advertisement:

 

But what about this?

 

Or this one?

 

When professional athletes tweet about companies, it can be difficult to tell whether the tweet constitutes a paid advertisement or the athlete’s uncompensated opinion. The ASA recently ruled that a tweet by soccer star Wayne Rooney was not deceptive because the tweet was clearly an advertisement. But some of Harper’s and other athletes’ tweets are not so clearly marked as marketing materials. Consumers should be aware that many tweets on an athlete’s page are paid for.

Update: While Under Armour was presumably too busy “inventing performance” to respond to TINA.org’s requests for comment, the FTC did say that:

You are correct that the FTC cannot monitor every tweet. Nevertheless, we are paying attention. And because most advertisers want to follow the rules, (and want their competitors to follow the rules), we tend to find out when things are seriously amiss.

For more on Twitter ads, click here.

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