Until now, Trade Licensing Authorities have rather addressed compliance of influencer marketing with special requirements for certain types of products, such as tobacco or alcohol. The number of enforcement cases is still very low, and proceedings are usually initiated upon consumers’ complaints. The imposed fines were relatively low, usually around EUR 50 – 100. The penalizing effect is therefore debatable, given the fact that many influencers do influencer marketing for a living and their income is often higher than that from an ‘ordinary job’. As far as we are aware, no case from the given area has been resolved before the courts.
A change may be on the horizon with a newly prepared law regarding video sharing platforms, implementing the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Competence in relation to video platforms (e.g. YouTube) and video content on other platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram) will be entrusted to the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (the “Council”). The Council is already active in the field of advertisements in radio and television broadcasting and its decision-making could improve compliance in influencer marketing as well. However, this new law may also bring inconsistency –advertisements contained in videos will be controlled by the Council, while advertisements contained in photos will be controlled by regional Trade Licensing Authorities. This new law is still in the legislative procedure phase and we await the wording of the regulation in its final form.
Best influencer marketing practices in the Czech Republic
It is not only law itself that plays a role in influencer marketing. Self-regulatory bodies are active in this field as well. The Platform of Professional Communication, open for influencers, agencies, and brands, has recently published a concise Influencers’ Code of Conduct (the “Code”) (available in Czech) on the website aptly called Fair Influencer.
The idea behind such initiatives, led by the Association for Internet Progress – SPIR (member of IAB Europe), is to ensure transparency in sponsored social media posts. The Code contains simple recommendations for brands, agencies and influencers that should help them with their compliance.
The main takeaways from the Code are the following:
- The post should be clearly labelled with “(#)placenepartnerstvi” (in English: “(#)paidpartnership”) at the beginning. The use of a hashtag depends on the platform. Additionally, influencers should use the functionality of the platform that marks the post as a paid partnership. Such functionalities should not be used alone as it may be misleading.
- Influencers should accommodate their communication to their audience and make it understandable, especially to underaged persons.
- Influencers should not lie or conceal information about their experience with products or services. They should not pretend they bought a product themselves if it was actually provided by a brand or a company.
- Influencers should ensure that their label about the paid partnership complies with the platform’s terms. In videos, they should keep information about the partnership displayed and in picture long enough for viewers to read it.
- Influencers, brands and agencies should comply with a warning of the self-regulatory body and remedy the situation.
- Influencers, brands, and agencies should comply with laws, especially the Advertising Act, when advertising regulated products or to underaged persons. For instance, if the influencer’s audience is made of underaged persons by more than 25%, he/she should not advertise alcohol, tobacco or gambling.