The Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Advertising Practices has recently finalized its investigation into a Cole Haan’s “Wandering Shoe” contest wherein contestants could enter the contest by creating Pinterest boards titled “Wandering Sole” and including five shoe images from Cole Haan’s Wander Sole Pinterest Board as well as five images of contestants’ “favorite places to wander.” Contestants also were instructed to use #WanderingSole in each pin description. The contestant with the most creative entry would, under the contest rules, be awarded a $1,000 shopping spree from Cole Haan.
In its investigation closing letter, the FTC stated that it believes “that participants’ pins featuring Cole Haan products were endorsements of the Cole Haan products, and the fact that the pins were incentivized by the opportunity to win a $1,000 spree would not reasonably be expected by consumers who saw the pins.” The FTC also stated that “Cole Haan did not instruct contestants to label their pins and Pinterest boards to make it clear that they had pinned Cole Haan products as part of a contest” and that the #WanderingSole hashtag did not adequately communicate “the financial incentive—a material connection—between contestants and Cole Haan.”
As we have discussed previously, the FTC, in its Online Endorsement Guidelines, requires the disclosure of any “material connection” offered in exchange for an online endorsement or post. Failure to provide such a disclosure potentially violates Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. § 45 Unfair methods of competition unlawful; prevention …
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