Kim Kardashian, the queen of product promotion, could be swept up in an investigation in Great Britain that is cracking down on celebrities who promote products on Twitter and other social media without disclosing that they are paid to do so.
Dozens of celebrities, including actress Liz Hurley and singer Lily Allen, are the focus of the UK probe and could face possible court action, according to London’s Daily Mail.
The UK’s Office of Fair Trading, which has the power to file court actions and seek monetary damages as well as criminal prosecution, is leading the investigation and is focusing on actors, pop stars and television presenters.
Kardashian has become the poster girl for overreaching on product endorsements. Kim and sisters Klhoe and Kourtney caused an uproar for endorsing a prepaid credit card that charged outrageous fees.
In the UK, Hurley’s Twitter page contains at least ten references to Estee Lauder’s “divine’ skincare products. She has been the public face of the cosmetics company for 17 years, according to the Mail.
Allen, whose Twitter page has more than 2.5 million followers, recently wrote: “Apparently there is a brand new Playstation Move waiting for me at my office in the morning. Tres exciting.”
A spokesperson for the singer refused to discuss her relationship to the product, although the computer game company was a sponsor at the launch of Allen’s clothes store earlier this year.
“The integrity of information published online is crucial so that people can make informed decisions on how to spend their money,” said OFT Senior Director Heather Clayton said.
Derek Rey, co-founder of Ad.ly, which counts Kardashian among its clients, told PRNewser last year that it limits Kardashian and others to one paid tweet per day to avoid alienating their audiences, an obvious acknowledgement that the Tweets are nothing more than spam.
Rey told PRNewser that his clients are required to disclose the affiliation, but Kardashian’s Tweets contained no such mention.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has, since Dec. 2009, required bloggers who endorse products to reveal whether they have been being paid to do so. But the guidelines are voluntary and widely ignored.