This Just In

Learn From Their Mistakes: The Lord & Taylor FTC Disclosure Drama

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Michelle from BIGThinkster about the right (and wrong!) ways brands can pitch bloggers (read her awesome article here).

While we focused on the brand side, I shared with Michelle how important I think it is for bloggers themselves to really understand the responsibilities and guidelines that come with their jobs, too. And I told her that my personal pet peeve is seeing brands and bloggers ignore the rules of disclosure — something I’ve blogged about extensively:

Frankly, we are at the point where no matter what size, level of experience, vertical or voice a blogger has, ignoring or claiming to not know/understand these guidelines is no longer acceptable. And if bloggers don’t know, brands SHOULD. And they should — as almost all of my partners now do — make the disclosure a requirement of any sponsored posts.

So as you can imagine, I’m angry and disappointed to see the discussion around the disclosure — or seeming LACK of — in a recent fashion campaign from Lord & Taylor (covered in great detail by Marketing Land).

According to reports (and my own research), 50 bloggers agreed to post pictures of themselves wearing the same paisley-print dress from Lord & Taylor’s new Design Lab collection. These bloggers —  all of whom had significant audiences — posted at the same time and as you can imagine, their influence led to a quick sellout of the dress.

Styled | #DesignLab dress exclusive to @lordandtaylor… #ootd #militaryinspired #ad

A photo posted by Alicia Lund (@aliciamlund) on

I LOVE the idea. It’s creative, it’s like a social media flash mob and it obviously worked. Except that almost none (perhaps none at all, although it’s hard to tell because many of the photos have been edited to add disclosure that wasn’t originally there) offered any form of disclosure that this was a sponsored campaign. {Even the disclosure that has been added doesn’t rise to the level I use and that I wish all bloggers used! If your readers have to question what compensation you received, that’s a #fail.}


Hanging at my Brooklyn home today in this dress from @lordandtaylor ‘s new #DesignLab collection ? ????: @briana9


A photo posted by Rachel Lynch (@ihateblonde) on

Lord & Taylor did issue a statement once the news reports came out:

“We are proud of this campaign and our partnerships but want to reiterate that our influencers were compensated by Lord & Taylor, as is customary in these types of programs. We are always looking for ways to improve our process and communications with our customers. We look forward to continuing to build great marketing campaigns.”

So, what can you learn from this drama? Here are a few reminders about the disclosure DO and DON’T list:


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