Celebs face possible court action over ‘plugging’ products on Twitter

Sunday, January 9, 2011

LONDON - Actors, pop singers and TV presenters who fail to mention that they have a financial interest in ‘plugging’ luxury products online may now face court action.

The British Government’s consumer watchdog has cracked the whip on dozens of celebrities, including actress Liz Hurley and singer Lily Allen, who have been accused of using their Internet blogs and tweets to endorse products, reports the Daily Mail.

The crackdown has been ordered by the Office of Fair Trading, which has the power to take offenders to court.

The first such case of its kind was brought last year against a PR firm which was found to be paying bloggers to write in glowing terms about the company’s clients.

Now enforcement officers are examining possible breaches of the law by celebrities involved in secret deals with manufacturers of luxury goods.

The OFT has refused to discuss ongoing investigations but officials are known to be keen to crack down on what they regard as possible breaches of the consumer protection laws laid down in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

If OFT warnings about surreptitious advertising are ignored, it can seek a court order that could lead to a criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine.

“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.

Elizabeth Hurley’s Twitter page contains at least 10 references to Estee Lauder’s ‘divine’ skincare products. She has been the public face of the cosmetics company for 17 years.

“Apparently there is a brand new Playstation Move waiting for me at my office in the morning. Tres exciting,” wrote Lily Allen, whose Twitter page has more than 2.5 million followers.

The computer gaming company was involved in the launch of Miss Allen’s new clothes shop, Lucy in Disguise, in Covent Garden, London, in September.

Asked about a possible connection with the singer’s online musings, Allen’s spokesman said: ‘It’s nobody’s business.’

Celebrity endorsements on blogs are a huge industry in the United States where stars like Snoop Dogg can earn up to 3,000 dollars per tweet for promoting brands.

But they have to be accompanied by the prefixes ‘ad’ or ’spon’ to show the reference has been paid for.(ANI)

Filed under: Hollywood

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