TINA, a consumer activist group, reported YouTube sensation Ryan’s Toys Review to the Federal Trade Commission for online marketing violations. The group worries about his young viewership’s ability to comprehend disclaimers.
What should other kidfluencer management teams take from the conflict? Could the case trigger advertising regulatory updates? Let’s review.
What is Ryan’s Toys Review?
Ryan’s Toys Review is the online home of 7-year-old YouTuber Ryan Kaji. Currently, over 20 million followers watch him play with toys and review them. His popularity has spawned other projects, including Ryan’s Family Review and a Nickelodeon show.
Why did TINA File an Online Marketing Complaint Against Ryan ToysReview?
Well-known consumer activist group, Truth in Advertising (TINA), has rung an alarm in the form of an FTC complaint.
TINA feels Ryan’s disclosures lack vigor because kids don’t understand them.
In the FTC complaint, TINA makes several points to further its assertion:
- “[Ryan’s Toys Review] deceptively promotes a multitude of products to millions of preschool-aged children in violation of the FTC law.”
- “[Ryan’s Toys Review] sponsored content is presented in a manner that misleadingly blurs the distinction between advertising and organic content for its intended audience.”
- Citing a video involving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TINA chastises: “The voiceover disclosure is not in Ryan’s voice, is stated at the beginning of the video before Ryan’s playing begins, is completed in less than two seconds and is played immediately after a pre-roll advertisement, making it highly unlikely that Ryan’s preschool fans will notice the audible disclosure.”
Bonnie Patten, TINA Executive Director, explained that “organic content” and “sponsored content” are “all the same to a preschooler.” She added: “They just don’t have the intellectual capacity to distinguish when they’re being pitched to and when there’s a child playing with a toy because he likes that toy.”
TINA Legal Director Laura Smith wrote, “when a YouTube video directed to children under the age of 5 mixes advertising with program content, as Ryan ToysReview videos frequently do, the preschool audience is unable to understand or even identify the difference between marketing material and organic content, even when there is a verbal indicator that attempts to identify the marketing content.”
Ryan ToysReview’s Response
Ryan’s dad, Shion Kaji, defended his family’s operation, explaining that they “strictly follow all platforms’ terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements.”
Kaji also expressed his desire to “support efforts by lawmakers, industry representatives, and regulators such as the FTC to continuously evaluate and update existing guidelines and law new ground rules to protect both viewers and creators.”
Five Marketing Musts to Keep the FTC Away
The Federal Trade Commission is the country’s consumer watchdog. The agency develops and enforces promotional guidelines. To stay on the FTC’s good side:
- Before bringing a product or service to market, research applicable laws and guidelines for your industry. At the risk of sounding like a salesperson (after all, our firm maintains a successful FTC law practice), its best to enlist an attorney who knows precisely what you need to do to stay compliant;
- Don’t make unsubstantiated claims in marketing materials;
- Use conspicuous disclosures, even on promotional social media posts;
- Avoid negative option checkout tactics;
- Don’t trick consumers by ignoring swindlers and bots that fraudulently manipulate your platform.
Connect with an FTC Defense Lawyer
The Gordon Law Group is a leading FTC defense law firm that has won cases against the agency. If you need an attorney to review a marketing campaign or the FTC is suing you, we have the resources, knowledge, and relationships you need.
Get in touch today.