Brand and influencer partnerships: regulations in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, UK
Sponsored posts don’t just concern the biggest influencers but the smallest ones too! These posts have become widespread on all social networks as influencer recommendations are a powerful marketing tool.
Be careful though, as in Europe, influencer marketing is increasingly regulated.
What are the best practices in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and the UK regarding sponsored posts? Influence4You sheds light on the rules in these countries.
Partnerships in Spain
Spanish law requires a clear distinction between sponsored content and editorial content. The Asociación para la Autorregulación de la Comunicación Comercial, or “Autocontrol”, defines the criteria for identifying commercial posts:
- those aimed at promoting a product or service
- those distributed as part of a collaboration resulting in financial remuneration or compensation. (gifts, event invitations, gift certificates … etc.)
- those which are subject to validation before publication (example: the advertiser validates the post before publication)
In its “Code of Conduct on the use of influencers in advertising” the authority requires explicit use of terms such as “publicidad” (“advertising”), “patrocinado por” (“sponsored by”) “en colaboración con” (“in collaboration with”).
Broader statements such as “Embajador de” (“Ambassador of”), “Gracias a” (“Thanks to”) or “Regalo de” (“Gift of”) are permissible.
However, the terms “ad”, “sponso”, or “sp” are not allowed and reference to the advertising partnership must remain in the post if it is shared.
The organisation recommends using social networks’ built-in features to mention the partnership without any possibility of error.
Failure to mention a marketing collaboration may be punished with a fine for concealed advertising.
Partnerships in Germany
German law, along with Spanish law, provides for a distinction between editorial content and marketing content. According to the very clear guide available here in English and published by the media authority, any reference to a brand or a product is considered as an advertisement even if there is no remuneration and as long as there is cooperation between the two parties (product discounts, gifts, invitations to trips or events…)
For a post with marketing content, the German authority defines that:
- The word “Werbung” or “Anzeige” (“advertisement”) must be placed at the beginning of the post in question on all social networks.
- If it is a video, the reference must appear on it permanently except if the product is not the only subject of the video. In the latter case, the terms “Produktplatzierung” (“product placement”), “Unterstützt durch Produktplatzierung” (“supported by product placement”) or “Unterstützt durch” (“supported by”) can be used.
Unlike in Spain, in Germany the built-in features of social networks are not enough to identify marketing content with advertising purposes. English notices are also not accepted if the account is in German.
Partnerships in Italy
Italy has also established rules on editorial or marketing content. The Instituto dell’Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria (IAP) is the authority on the subject in the country. Like Germany, content is considered marketing if it is compensated (remuneration, gifts, products, discounts, invitations…).
According to the organization’s charter available here:
- A marketing publication must include the following terms, “Pubblicità” (“advertising”), “Promosso da” (“promoted by”), “Sponsorizzato da” (“sponsored by”), or “in collaborazione con” (“in collaboration with”). English is permitted for the above terms.
- The hashtags #ad, #sponsored, #advert …. etc. are allowed only if they are among the first three hashtags following the content.
- In the case of a product sent without remuneration, the words “prodotto inviato da” (“product sent by”) may be used, in Italian or English.
The reference to advertising must appear immediately in all circumstances. The Italian authority specifies that it is the advertiser who must inform the content creator of the legal notices.
Partnerships in France
In France, it is the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP) that defines the rules for advertising. As in Germany, Spain or Italy, partnerships must be clearly and explicitly disclosed. English is not allowed as it is not clear to a non-English-speaking community. It is recommended to use the features offered by social networks for partnerships to avoid making mistakes.
There is a technicality in France, however: if the content creator has not made a commitment to the brand and the brand has no control over the content, a gift can be featured in a post without disclosure. This is the case for example in press relations when brands send free products to influencers.
Download our infographic on sponsored posts and best practices in France, created in collaboration with the ARPP and without remuneration… ;).
Partnerships in Belgium
The Belgian Advertising Council and FeWeb have published guidelines on online influencer marketing to help influencers comply with legislation and better protect consumers. As in France, an advertisement that does not clearly indicate its commercial nature may constitute an offense as it is considered misleading commercial practice.
According to the Flemish government, influencers earning income from commercial communication are considered media service providers. And the directive (EU) 2018/1808 requiers these Flemish media service providers to make commercial communications recognisable as such. Article VI. 100, 11° of the Belgian Code of Economic Law stipulates that the agent (the advertiser) must ensure that the influencers they pay to promote their product apply the rules and mention the advertisement clearly. However, it is the influencer who is responsible in case of non-compliance with the rules.
Influencers must include the phrase “advertising” or “sponsorship” in the text. The use of a hashtag is allowed. As in France, these rules only apply in cases of engagement and control by the brand or advertiser. In the case of press relations and a product offered without compensation and clear instruction for the influencer, these rules do not apply. The gift can however be mentioned.
Partnerships in the UK
The law in the UK is very clear and there are many guides available online. Influencers and partnerships across the board are subject to consumer protection laws and are monitored by the United Kingdom’s (“UK”) Committee of Advertising Practice (“CAP”)
Regulations require content creators to be fully transparent to Internet users. So influencers should not give the impression that they are authentic consumers when they are not. If an influencer praises the merits of a cream they received as a gift in the context of press relations, they give the impression that they personally purchased it. The consumer is then misled.
As such, clear references like “Ad”, “Advert“, “Advertisement“, “Advertisement Feature” can be used with or without a hashtag.
Other references such as “Supported by/Funded by“, “In association with“, “Thanks to…”, or just mentioning the brand name can be misleading to the consumer and are not recommended.
Abbreviations such as “aff” (for affiliate) or “sp” (for sponsored) are not allowed. Consumers are not familiar with these types of expressions for the most part. Clarity is key in the UK.
Finally, the references must appear at the very beginning of the post, and not be buried in the hashtags. The use of social networks’ features to highlight partnerships is recommended but may not be sufficient.
To be compliant and avoid mistakes, keep yourself informed of the laws that apply to your posts and your account. You can also sign up to an agency such as Influence4You to be assisted in your collaborations in all countries of the world, whether as a brand or as an influencer.
Influence4You is a member of the ARPP.