Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Business News

Warner Bros fined for not being transparent about relationship with influencers

(ADVERTISING NEWS) Warner Brothers paid influencers tens of thousands of dollars to post sponsored videos on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The FTC looked into it and now WB is in trouble. Don’t follow in their footsteps.

You know him as PewDiePie

Warner Brothers Home Entertainment had its wrist slapped this week by the Federal Trade Commission for being less than honest about its use of influencers for marketing purposes.

The entertainment company paid several online influencers, including the incredibly popular game reviewer PewDiePie, to promote their fantasy role-play Lord of the Rings themed video game, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Told not to include critique or criticism

Warner Bros.’ ad agency, Plaid Social Labs, paid influencers hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars to post sponsored videos on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Influencers received advanced access to the game.

The contract stipulated that review videos should include game play, a call to action advising viewers to visit the website for Middle Earth, and should not include any criticisms or complaints about glitches in the game.

FTC bringing the heat

Paying influencers isn’t illegal, but you have to be upfront about it, and Warner Brothers was a bit too sneaky for the FTC’s tastes. Influences were required to disclose to viewers that their video was sponsored, but not necessarily conspicuously. For example, on PewDiePie’s video, which was viewed over 3 million times on YouTube, you have to click on the “show more” link below the video to read that “this video was sponsored by Warner Brother.”  Other influencers disclosed that they’d been given advanced access to the game, but failed to reveal that they’d also been paid to give a positive review.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The FTC has given Warner Brothers a stern warning not to try any more shady marketing tactics, or risk civil penalties or even a contempt charge in federal court.

Said the FTC’s director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich, “Consumer have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.”


Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



Business News

Noncompete clauses have a tricky history, but the FTC has proposed they be nixed altogether.

Business Marketing

Google and Meta have dominated the US's ad revenue since 2014, but in 2022, that started to fade. Will it continue?

Business Marketing

Google adds a redesign quietly to its search engine, adding filters that will change what we know about SEO Marketing.

Business Marketing

Airtable presents the drawbacks of your current marketing strategy and what changes need to be made to make it work efficiently.

The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.