Major players named – FTC complaint alleges deceptive ads aimed at kids

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FTC complaint alleges Google, Disney & others profit from deceptive ads aimed at kids

Posted By Sarah Perez

Consumer watchdog groups, CCFC, Public Citizen, and the Center for Digital Democracy, are again targeting the deceptive advertising practices of “influencer marketing” in a new complaint filed with the FTC on Friday. The groups specifically call out Google’s YouTube and YouTube Kids, Disney-owned Maker Studios, Dreamworks’ AwesomenessTV and others, as being involved in this damaging practice.

Consumer watchdog organizations complain that these sorts of ads are pushing toys, junk food and other products toward kids, who can’t yet tell the difference between paid advertising and content.

By law, existing FTC regulations require that advertisements are disclosed. But the groups say that many influencers fail to make the proper disclosures, leading kids to pester parents for costly goods and unhealthy foods.

The complaint alleges that several MCNs (multi-channel networks), including Collab Creators, Wild Brain, Maker Studios and AwesomenessTV, all distribute this sort of content across social media and YouTube. It even names some of the more popular “influencer” YouTube channels where this content can today be found, like EvanTubeHD, Baby Ariel, Meghan McCarthy, the Eh Bee Family, and Bratayley.

In one example, Baby Ariel and her family sample Jelly Belly jelly beans as part of a game; In another, an EvanTubeHD video shows an unboxing of a new Lego Police Patrol Boat. While this content obviously appeals to kids, the relationship between the influencer and advertiser is not disclosed. Meanwhile, the platforms where these videos are found – like YouTube and YouTube Kids, for example – financially benefit from the videos’ popularity, thanks to ad revenues.

“Parents have no idea that the adorable ‘friends’ their children like to watch unbox toys are really stealth marketers,” CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin said in statement, calling on the FTC to clamp down on this marketing practice.

And the groups have filed FTC complaints related to the hidden junk food ads on YouTube Kids – which means the food and drink advertisers are violating their own self-regulatory pledges they made as members of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).

Read full article and learn more about deceptive advertising here.

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