According to an article from Bloomberg BNA , Deutsch LA Inc. has settled with the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly using employee Twitter accounts to promote a partner’s product. In this particular instance, FTC alleges that emails from an Executive at Deutsch LA Inc. encouraged employees to tweet messages regarding the Playstation Vita with hashtags such as “#GAMECHANGER” that misrepresented the system’s graphical capabilities in order to “generate buzz” for the then new console.
Because Sony’s advertising campaign for the Vita included the “#GAMECHANGER” hashtag as a part of their advertising campaign, an unlawful link between the advertising agency and Sony was created as federal advertising laws require the link between people and the product they are endorsing to be made public knowledge. Because Deutsch LA Inc. did not disclose that there was a connection between their agency and the Vita-related tweets, it may have appeared to consumers that these were personal endorsements rather than corporate ones. According to the same article, the FTC updated their rules concerning endorsements in 2009 to include social media platforms such as Twitter.
A sample of the Tweets used as evidence in the case can be found here, in an article posted to the FTC’s blog.”
- “One thing can be said about PlayStation Vita . . . it’s a #gamechanger”
- “PS Vita [ruling] the world. Learn about it! us.playstation.com/psvita/#GAMECHANGER”
- “Thumbs UP #GAMECHANGER – check out the new PlayStation Vita”
- “This is sick . . . See the new PS Vita in action. The gaming #GameChanger”
- “Got the chance to get my hands on a PS Vita and I’m amazed how great the graphics are. It’s definitely a #gamechanger!
This comes on the heels of a related decision by the FTC that alleged that Sony misrepresented the Vita’s capabilities, especially regarding crossplay and remoteplay options in regard to the Playstation 3. In a press statement last month the FTC released the following statement regarding the matter “As we enter the year’s biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers — as Sony did with the “game changing” features of its PS Vita — they must deliver on those pledges,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims.”
Gamers who purchased the Vita before June of 2012 are entitled to $25 in cash or $50 in Sony products as part of the FTC’s settlement with the gaming giant.
As of writing, Deutsch LA Inc. has agreed to settle out of court and the public will be able to comment on the proposed settlement until the 29th of the month.