Watchdog: Diageo Bent Rules on Social Media

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Dec 17, 2018

An advertising watchdog group has accused Diageo of deceptive marketing practices in promoting one of its products on social media.

Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Dec. 8 charging Diageo with marketing its Ciroc vodka through posts by celebrities on Instagram without disclosing that those celebrities were paid. The main such “influencer” is hip hop performer Sean “Puffy” Combs, who has handled marketing and promotion for Ciroc for more than 10 years. Others include DJ Khaled, a prominent disc jockey and record promoter, and what Truth in Advertising alleges is “an army of hip hop artists, DJs, models, actors and actresses, reality TV stars, and other influencers” that Combs has brought to bear on Ciroc promotions.

FTC regulations require anyone paid to promote a product online to reveal that fact in their posts or other communications. Diddy started adding “#ad” to his Ciroc messages this year but, TiA alleges, has not changed any of his pre-2018 posts. Diageo replied to TiA that it was “committed to complying with all laws and regulations, including the FTC’s endorsement disclosure guidelines, as well as our rigorous marketing code and policies.”