So, you read our post about the Golden Globes (and if you didn’t, you know where to head to next). It should come as no surprise that alongside these beautiful red-carpet gowns and dresses comes more serious issues regarding trademark branding and consumer manipulation. As the saying goes, beauty is pain (unprecedented legal pain, that is).
Before we start, it is important to note that mentioned commonly throughout this piece is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is an independent government agency whose primary role is promoting consumer protection. The FTC Act states that an act done on behalf of a business may be deceptive or manipulative if there is “a material misrepresentation or omission of information that is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonable in the circumstances.” Section 5 of the FTC Act specifically declares these above-mentioned deceptive acts as unlawful.
However, determining whether an act is likely to mislead consumers is often a tricky situation. Oftentimes, it comes down to statistics and inferences concluding whether the targeted audience views the posts or misleading communications as authentic or not. Consumers who trust the source will be more likely to find their information to be an authentic, rather than a “paid for” review or endorsement. These “authentic” sources of information may play to consumers’ emotion, manipulating individuals into buying or investing in items they may not have purchased otherwise.
One common and simple example of violations of the FTC Act occurs in regards to bloggers (don’t worry, Unprecedentedly Chic knows the legal ramifications, we would NEVER manipulate our following base – cue virtual hugs). The FTC Act specifically states that in order to promote or endorse a product over social media, similar standards to traditional magazine publishers apply. Specifically, in this increasing digital media world we live in, the FTC has held that promoting parties should use “#Ad” or “Sponsored”to disclose the promotion. Promotions aren’t as obvious as they used to be, which is why the FTC Act has been dealing with an increased number of consumer protection infringements.
So, what does this have to do with the Golden Globes? The answer is simple. Often times, actresses wearing a dress on the red carpet serves as an endorsement for that brand (and we, as consumers, don’t even know it!). Think about all those times you “ouuu” and “ahhh”-ed over the gorgeous red-carpet looks. More often than not, high-end designers are gifting celebrities with garments to wear in exchange for resulting promotion when being interviewed (and here we thought these celebrities were simply kindly extending their keen sense of fashion with us little guys … think again).
The primary problem arising with red-carpet looks and endorsements is that it is not as clear-cut as a sponsorship by a blogger, per say. Celebrities can’t #Ad while being chic on the red-carpet, nor do national televisors want these popular icons to be spending valuable air time disclosing their collaborative sponsorship with Versace. Further, what is especially problematic, is that although some red carpet looks are sponsored, others are not. Due to this lack of uniformity, consumers do not have a set-in-stone rule, and it becomes increasingly difficult for the FTC to monitor consumer protection against deceptiveness and manipulation.
At the end of the day, consumer manipulation still remains a pressing (and under-discussed) concern within the legal and corporate industries. Now, we’re not telling you to NEVER watch an awards pre-show ever again (because let’s get real here, missing a red-carpet event is every fashionista’s worst nightmare). Rather, it is important to simply be more aware of the conditions and collaborations that often occur behind the scenes. Or, in this case, behind the sequence.
Information on the Federal Trade Commission within this article is accredited to The Fashion Law.