In Argentina an influencer is born every day. While some of them are celebrities or athletes, others -nowadays most of them- are ordinary people that somehow get followers up to the point that brands start looking at them with interest.
What do they have in common? They post content in their personal accounts promoting or endorsing products without disclosing their relationships to brands. Why? The answer is simple, because they can.
It is worth mentioning that Argentineans are very active in social media. According to recent studies there were 15,240,000 Instagram users in Argentina in September 2018, which accounted for 33.6% of its entire population. So, the current lack of regulation about advertising in social media is quite surprising.
The recent change to the Unfair Trading Act was supposed to address this matter; however, lawmakers decided to leave it aside, at least for the time being. In the meantime, our legal framework reflects the basic truth-in-advertising principle so it seems obvious that every post should reflect the honest opinion of the influencer or clearly disclose if there is a connection between an influencer and a brand that followers would not expect and that would affect their purchasing decisions.
We should not forget that followers are consumers and that our legislation should both promote competition and protect and educate them. Considering that self-regulation has proven to be very effective in Argentina, the legal loophole could be filled by an Endorsement Guide by CONARP (Self-regulatory body) to be followed by all marketers and influencers. In 2018 CONARP issued a Paper on commercial communications in digital media. The paper briefly refers to the case of content generated by influencers by stating that if there is a contractual relationship between the influencer and the brand it should be conspicuously clear to their followers, mainly because a person willingly follows an influencer for different reasons (interest, admiration, entertainment purposes) but not because an influencer has a relationship with a given brand.
In between the strict regulations of the FTC in USA and the legal loophole in our country we may find as a possible solution the creation of guidelines for user-generated content by influencers with a commercial relationship with a brand to be in tune with the already existing truth-in-adverting principle and establish a level playing field for both marketers and consumers. CONARP could take the lead in this issue considering that they are the most knowledgeable players with a deep understanding of what is at stake. Moreover, they can prevent the lawmakers from creating regulations that are too strict for the needs of the digital market that need to flow at their own pace.
Meanwhile, if you are a local influencer feel free to promote or endorse the products you receive for free or the ones you are paid for to promote without making any disclosure because, at least for now, #Nobodycareswhetheryoudiscloseornot
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