These Influencer and Endorsement Guidelines (“Guidelines”) explain your responsibilities and obligations as an “influencer” for or endorser of Sony Electronics Inc. (“Sony”) and/or its products or as an entity engaging Influencer’s on behalf of Sony. These Guidelines apply to individuals and entities that receive something of value in exchange for endorsing or promoting Sony products or services, including on social media.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) requires advertisers and influencers to disclose any “material connections” that consumers would not otherwise expect and prohibits the use of false or misleading endorsements in advertising. See Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
A “material connection” is anything of value that might “materially affect the weight or credibility” of the influencer’s endorsement. A material connection could be:
You are a photographer who operates a popular YouTube channel about cameras. Unsolicited, Sony sends you our latest camera to try out for free. If you choose to post a review about our camera, you must disclose the fact that you received the camera for free.
You are an employee of Sony and also happen to be a huge fan of the Sony’s Airpeak drone. When the latest Airpeak drone comes out, you post an Instagram Story on your personal Instagram account discussing the product’s amazing new features. You must disclose the fact that you are a Sony employee when discussing Sony products.
You are a blogger who writes about consumer electronics. Sony invites you out to the annual Consumer Electronics Show to check out its latest products. If you subsequently write a story about Sony’s latest products, you must disclose that you received a free trip to CES.
You must disclose your material connection with Sony if you “endorse” Sony itself or a Sony product or service. An endorsement is any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.
If you post a picture on social media showing you using a Sony product, that is an endorsement.
If you write a favorable review of a Sony product on your blog or website, that is an endorsement.
If you tweet a link or tag to the latest Sony OLED TV with the comment “Check it out!”, that is an endorsement.
You must disclose your material connection to Sony whenever endorsing Sony products.
Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, beliefs, and experiences of the endorser.
Endorsers may not make things up or say things that are not true.
Do not endorse, review or promote Sony as a brand if you have no experience with Sony.
Do not endorse, review, or promote Sony products if you have not used the products.
Do not make any product claims that would be deceptive or unsubstantiated if made by Sony. For example, do not claim that a Sony camera is waterproof if that is not the case.
Any required disclosures must be clear and easy to understand.
Avoid ambiguous terms like “sp,” “thanks” and “ambassador” without providing additional context.
Clearly state if you received products from Sony for free, such as “thanks Sony for the free product!” In contrast, a more general statement such as “thanks Sony” may not be sufficient.
When making a disclosure, it is important to consider the context.
Photos or text on social media (e.g., Instagram feed, Facebook posts, tweets):
i. Begin the post with “Ad,” “Paid Ad,” or “Sponsored.”
ii. Do not bury the disclosure in a string of hashtags.
iii. Consumers should not have to click anything (e.g., “Show More”) in order to see the disclosure.
Videos on social media (e.g., Instagram Stories, Snapchat, TikTok)
i. Superimpose the disclosure over the video and include a verbal disclosure such as “Thanks Sony for sending me this free product!”
ii. Disclosures must be verbally stated in and superimposed in the video and within the social media post or caption.
iii. Longer videos may require multiple disclosures during the video.
i. Include a disclosure in the video description before the “show more” link (do not require consumers to click to see the disclosure).
ii. Superimpose the disclosure over the video and include a verbal disclosure such as “Thanks Sony for sending me this free product!”
iii. A disclosure in the video title may be overlooked. Thus, disclosures must be verbally stated in and superimposed in the video and within the social media post or caption.
iv. Longer videos may require multiple disclosures during the video.
Reviews or sponsored articles:
i. The disclosure should appear at the beginning of the article and should be difficult to miss.
NOTE: Using the sponsored content tools made available on some platforms (such as the Instagram Branded Content Tool) are not necessarily sufficient on their own. Thus, in addition to those tools, follow these Guidelines.
Compliance is a shared responsibility
The FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines apply to you as well as Sony. This means that we both could be liable for any misleading or unsubstantiated statements made in sponsored endorsements. This includes a failure on your part to disclose any material connection and/or making false or misleading claims in sponsored endorsements. Therefore, we take these matters very seriously and we ask that you do the same.
If you have questions about these Guidelines, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Sony contact.
Copyright 2023. Sony Electronics Inc.