Stealth marketing is a common guerilla marketing tactic that is employed to generate brand buzz. But the problem with such practices is that they're often rooted in unethical promotional gimmicks. Audiences are pushed into viewing ads without disclosing that it is a branded content.
Will Japan’s recent crackdown on stealth marketing, have overarching effects on influencer marketing and platforms that hinge on influencer content such as TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels?
Online reviews and influencer endorsements are ubiquitous on the internet, and may face an onslaught of new regulations soon.
With many paid-for promotions not disclosed, the blurry line between advertisements and organic word-of-mouth recommendations has led consumer protection bodies to take action against influencers. In recent years the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also ramped up its efforts to get influencers to ‘clearly and conspicuously’ disclose their relationships with brands.
Does this mean brands must stray away from influencer marketing?
Well, not really. Influencer marketing is not dead and will not be soon. But it may soon evolve with ethical and responsible marketing practices.
As more countries follow suit, explicit labeling of ads will become the norm going forward. Influencer marketing labels may need to be prominent enough so that consumers will easily notice them. Marketers would have to employ transparent and ethical advertising practises across the board. After all, honesty and authenticity is the best digital marketing strategy.
To cope with the current wave of regulations against influencer-brand partnerships, it may be in the brands' best interests to diversify to alternate ways of acquiring and retaining customers. Instead of employing covert advertising strategies, marketers can also opt for direct engagement with prospects and customers.