National Advertising Division Refers TikTok Influencer Advertising for Coldest Water Bottle to Federal Trade Commission for Further Review
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New York, NY – June 29, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs has referred advertising claims made by The Coldest Water, LLC to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for review. Through its ad monitoring program, NAD inquired about numerous TikTok videos by influencers featuring the reusable, insulated Coldest Water bottle. The advertiser did not respond to NAD’s request to provide support for its claims.
The advertisements in question were posted on the social media platform TikTok by various social media influencers. In each video, a Coldest Water bottle is displayed prominently somewhere in the foreground or background so that the brand logo can clearly be seen, but the product itself is not mentioned or referenced by the influencer. The challenged videos use the hashtag “#thecoldestwater” and tag the company (@thecoldestwater), but do not include any material connection disclosures to the company.
NAD noted that the Coldest Water website contains several references to the company’s social media influencer program, through which participants are sent free merchandise in exchange for posting videos showcasing the product. The website also includes a social media guide that instructs influencers to “Create a video with the Coldest bottle in the background” and to tag the company.
NAD questioned whether consumers would take away a message that influencers placing the Coldest Water bottles in videos are endorsing the product and that such influencers have a material connection with the company making the endorsed product. The independent non-profit ad watchdog took this step because, according to the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, “when there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.”
Considering the advertiser’s failure to provide a substantive response to NAD’s request for substantiation for its claims or participate in any way in the self-regulatory process, NAD has referred the matter to the FTC for possible enforcement action.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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