Summary of Action
Diageo was put on notice of this deceptive marketing issue in March 2018 when TINA.org alerted the company to DJ Khaled’s undisclosed Ciroc ads on social media. (Brand manager Combs was also previously warned about his obligation to clearly and conspicuously disclose his material connections to products he promotes on Instagram when the FTC sent him a letter regarding his deceptive promotion of other products in March 2017.)
Following TINA.org’s DJ Khaled investigation, Combs added #ad to his 2018 Ciroc posts but did not take any corrective action with respect to his hundreds of pre-2018 posts, and Diageo informed TINA.org that it was “committed to complying with all laws and regulations, including the FTC’s endorsement disclosure guidelines, as well as our rigorous marketing code and policies” and that it had “taken corrective and proactive steps in sync with our commitments.” Yet, as of December 2018, an abundance of inadequately disclosed Ciroc ads across numerous influencers are still on Instagram, making it clear that Diageo is not committed to complying with FTC law, and has not taken the corrective or proactive steps necessary to ensure that its social media influencers comply with the law.
As a result, TINA.org filed a complaint letter with the FTC on December 10, 2018, urging the agency to take enforcement action against Diageo, and ensure that all present and future social media posts by the company promoting sponsored alcohol use are not directed at minors and are clearly and conspicuously labeled as advertisements. (TINA.org also sent a similar complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom on December 11, 2018 but the agency declined to take action as it felt UK consumers were not directly targeted by the Ciroc social media influencers at issue.)
Within a week of receiving TINA.org’s complaint, Combs removed all of the Ciroc ads on his Instagram page that TINA.org collected. And by January 2019, nearly 90 percent of the posts in TINA.org’s database of the more than 1,700 Instagram ads published by Ciroc influencers had been taken down.
Check back for updates.