Alo Yoga Agrees to Modify Instagram Posts to Disclose Material Connection between Company and Influencers After ERSP Review of Social Media Advertising

New York, NY – June 18, 2019 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Alo, LLC (“Alo Yoga”) modify certain Instagram posts to disclose the material connection between the company and its influencers and continue monitoring Alo Yoga influencers to ensure their compliance with the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (FTC Guides).

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by BBB National Programs, Inc.  The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

Alo Yoga is a yoga apparel company that sells yoga clothing to men and women, as well as yoga props, mats and accessories. In addition to products, the company has multiple yoga studios and sells online yoga classes.

ERSP reviewed approximately sixty (60) Instagram accounts containing endorsements of Alo Yoga that ERSP believed may have had a material connection to the company but lacked any information to indicate whether the Instagram posts were advertisements. During the course of the inquiry, the marketer confirmed that most of the influencers identified by ERSP have a material connection to the company, such as receiving monetary payment or free products in exchange for posting on Instagram.

The Instagram posts reviewed featured the influencers wearing Alo Yoga clothing in photographs and videos, and several of the posts included comments about the influencer’s experience with the brand and specific information about the clothing they were wearing. Each of these posts mentioned or “tagged” Alo Yoga’s Instagram account (@aloyoga) and other accounts operated by the marketer (i.e., @alo.moves).

ERSP determined that these Instagram posts constituted endorsements and, therefore, required disclosures of the material relationship between the marketer and the influencer. After a review of Instagram posts by Alo Yoga influencers, it was noted that a majority of the posts did not include any such disclosures. ERSP was concerned that, as a result, consumers may not understand that the Instagram posts were paid endorsements.

ERSP recommended that any Instagram posts that are endorsements posted by Alo Yoga influencers be modified to clearly and conspicuously disclose the material connection with the company in accordance with the FTC Guides, and that any material connections continue to be disclosed in any future endorsements.  

The marketer explained that it drafted an “Alo Yoga Ambassador Program Guidelines” based upon the FTC Guides and that these guidelines have been distributed to Alo Yoga influencers.  While ERSP appreciated the marketer’s efforts, it reinforced to the marketer that the FTC Guides place responsibility not only on influencers, but on the brands that partner with them.

ERSP recommended that advertisers should have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their network of social media influencers.  In the decision, ERSP recommended that a company compliance program should include some of these elements: explain to members of the network what they can/cannot say about the products; instruct members of the network on their responsibilities for disclosing their connections to the advertiser; periodically search for what members of the network are saying; and follow-up if there are questionable practices.

Thus, with respect to the images and posts appearing on the Instagram pages of Alo Yoga influencers, ERSP recommended that the marketer monitor these influencers to ensure that any material connection between the influencer and marketer be clearly and conspicuously disclosed and follow-up when they see practices that may not be compliant with the FTC Guides.

In its marketer’s statement, Alo Yoga reiterated its commitment to ensuring the standards of truth in advertising are being upheld in a manner consistent with the FTC Guides and stated that while it “does not agree with everything contained in the ERSP decision, in the spirit of self-regulation, Alo Yoga will endeavor to comply with ERSP’s recent decision.”