According to vanksenculturebuzz's blog section (cool website, check it out), on April 2nd, the British Institute of Practitioners in Advertising released a warning that will affect all buzz and viral marketing practitioners and internet advertising as a whole. The organization has launched a warning regarding the guidelines prohibiting unethical practices of viral marketing, buzz marketing, and word-of-mouth. Considering the rapid growth of these modes of promotion and advertising, this is a very well-needed and necessary step.
These guidelines will be featured in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations that will be effective starting May 26, 2008, which already requires that any commercial message must be identified as such so as to not be deceiving to the public.
The following practices will be dubbed as illegal:
-Seeding positive messages about a brand in a blog without making it clear that the message has been created by, or on behalf of the brand.
-Using “buzz marketing” specialists to communicate with potential consumers in social situations without disclosing that they are acting as brand ambassadors.
-Seeding viral ads on the internet in a manner that implies you are a simple member of the public.
Punishments are to be in the form of heavy fines and possibly even prison sentences. So, if you have an online company or utilize any online advertisements or promotions for your products, whether it be an ad for a corporation or promoting your own album or clothing line, take note of these new laws, or else there is a big price to pay.
I hope that people agree with these laws, because we are all consumers, and nobody ever likes being duped.
Click here for the rest of the British Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s summary of this movement.