Warner Bros. Settles With FTC Regarding Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Influencers Campaign
Warner Bros. has settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the latter’s charges against the publisher for failing to ensure proper disclosure with Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor promotional videos. The company enlisted a vast many popular YouTube influencers, including Felix Kjellberg (Pewdiepie), to promote their game on their respective video channels and did not ensure that the influencers properly disclosed their sponsorship with Warner Bros.
According to the FTC, the paid-for-video agreement between Warner Bros. and the influencers explicitly stated that these videos could only be positive. No bugs or glitches were allowed to be mentioned, either. The video payments ranged between hundreds to thousands of dollars. FTC also asserts that Warner Bros. told these influencers to place sponsorship disclosures “below the fold,” so that they would only be seen if the viewers manually expanded the full video description.
In addition, Warner Bros. did not require the disclosure to be present in the video at all. Some of the videos mentioned they did receive the game early, but none of them mentioned they were paid to create these videos. The videos were not posted until the publisher approved them, and at least one video didn’t even include the sponsorship disclosure in the video description at all.
While it sounds like Warner Bros. is in some hot water, they were able to settle with the FTC for a slap on the wrist and a warning. The publisher must ensure that they don’t misrepresent financial sponsorships in the future, and they must educate any influencers they hire in regards to properly disclosing their information. The company must also refuse to pay those who do not follow these disclosure rules.
They escaped without a hefty fine this time, but it’s doubtful they’ll be able to get away with such behavior again.