If the Feds Wanted to Crack Down on Harper’s Bazaar’s Advertiser Plugs, They May Have the Evidence to Do So


Last week, Racked got its hands on what appeared to be a list of the order in which labels should be prioritized on a shoot for a ten-page Harper's Bazaar editorial. They seemed to be ranked in terms of who bought the most ad pages. Bnet believes that if the FTC wanted to use the list to go after Harper's Bazaar for shady endorsement practices, they could, according to the commission's new guidelines for advertisers, which state:

Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements, or for failing to disclose material connections between themselves and their endorsers [see § 255.5]. Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.

Writer Jim Edwards notes:

A fashion editorial is clearly an endorsement, but does Harper’s disclose the “material connections” between its fashion shoots and the advertisers who buy ads and provide the garments? Not online. In Harper’s December shoot with Iman, the items are identified by designer and price but it doesn’t say whether the Michael Kors fur scarf in shot 1 was selected because Kors is No. 2 on Harper’s list of advertisers.

He also notes that the regulations requiring bloggers to disclose on their blogs what items they received as gifts — usually in attempt for coverage — have been broadly interpreted and "could easily require the same level of disclosure from Harper’s, or indeed any women’s magazine featuring editorial fashion spreads." Then again, many women who look at fashion magazines understand that much of what's shot is advertisers' clothing.

Why the FTC Should Sue Harper’s Bazaar Over Its Fashion Spreads [Bnet]