The July issue of Marie Claire magazine (p. 75 in print, online here) has an interesting story by Abigail Pesta about shopaholic vloggers and the emerging YouTube genre of mall-haul videos.
Let’s explore the legal implications, shall we?
Marie Claire says that the fashion and beauty industry is sending “loads of free stuff” to the vloggers in the hopes of getting good reviews. There’s nothing illegal about getting free stuff. (Whew!) But if vloggers do go online singing the praises of their buddy swag-slingers, they’ll need to be upfront about it and disclose the relationship to viewers. (It’s all part of the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines.)
To see how this is playing out on YouTube, I watched a video in which juicystar07 (née Blair Fowler) plugged custom-designed footwear from Shoes of Prey. According to Marie Claire, Shoes of Prey got 200,000 visitors to their site after Fowler discussed the brand on her vlog. While I can’t be sure of which video Marie Claire was talking about, the video I watched seemed to introduce Shoes of Prey to Fowler’s viewers. The video was, in my view, entirely on the up and up. Fowler says in the video that Shoes of Prey sent her the shoes and that she has been talking with the firm’s “head honcho.” Fowler does not explicitly say that she received the shoes for free, but the implication is clear, I think.
(Also noteworthy: The video evidences solid production and post-production work. It’s a good example of the level of polish that can be achieved with citizen-produced media.)