The Big Game is now only days away, and we wait with great expectation to see who will… have the best commercial. We all know it’s really about the advertising. And this year, there is even a little bit of compliance thrown into the mix.
Hyundai Motor America is all set with a slew of Super Bowl pitches for its cars, but the company almost ran afoul of the FTC in regards to a compliance issue. Seems that Hyundai’s ad company gave incentives to bloggers to talk up the new Super Bowl ads for the car company. That’s not a new tactic in today’s social media world, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that as long as the rules are followed. The FTC says that if a blogger receives compensation to look and act like neutral third-party in regards to what they say about the product, the blogger, and potentially, the company itself, must disclose this fact to the public. Otherwise, it sets up a situation of non-compliance with the FTC and borders on unethical behavior, i.e. false advertising.
Ethics and compliance has come a long way, but it’s a complicated world out there. Having to consider whether a blogger needs to disclose a gift while they are previewing commercials? That sounds like it’s almost taking it too far. Not to sound overly defensive of Hyundai, but reportedly the company has a well written policy to cover that, but was everyone aware of it? How are the bloggers supposed to know what the policy is? A good policy that people aren’t aware of is really no policy at all.
The FTC chastised Hyundai but would not take it further because they felt that Hyundai did not knowingly or willfully go against the FTC compliance laws. As is often the case, the finding of fault and even financial penalties can be reduced if an organization can show that they had a viable compliance program actively in place when the violation occurred. That level of compliance initiative includes elements that work to protect the company and its employees, detect incidents and issues, and correct any faulty situations. That’s the heart of our “Protect, Detect and Correct” mantra. It’s all about setting standards, communicating those standard via awareness programs and training, taking active risk assessments and incident reporting, and following up on those issues.
With that said, I’m sure that the leaders and line employees at Hyundai, like all of us, can sit back and enjoy the game.