FTC Investigates Social Media Photo Contest: Endorsement/Testimonial Guidelines Apply

In the contest, Cole Haan offered a $1,000 prize for the “most creative entry” among photos posted on Pinterest.

Entry required (a) creating a Pinterest board titled with the shoe manufacturer’s slogan “Wandering Sole,” (b) pinning five photos from the manufacturer’s “Wandering Sole” Pinterest board, (c) pinning five photos of the consumer’s favorite “place to wander,” and (d) including the hashtag #WanderingSole with each photo. There was no requirement (or instruction) to mention the contest or the prize, neither of which would be obvious to a viewer of the consumer-posted boards. The FTC’s concern was that on these particular facts – i.e., a photo contest run via individual consumer social media pages featuring the manufacturer’s products without any explanation that consumers were posting the photos to try to win a prize – viewers could be misled into believing that the Pinterest boards reflected spontaneous consumer endorsements or testimonials for the manufacturer’s products. READ MORE