«Influencers, Agcom’s intervention is a step in the right direction»

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An important step forward. But for the real leap in quality it will be necessary to “arrive at an organic discipline. There is no absence of rules. There are some that already exist, relating for example to the Consumer Code. But the phenomenon is much more complex.” Maria Luigia Franceschelli, Counsel of Hogan Lovells, International Law Firm, considers the Agcom guidelines which received the green light from the Authority’s council last Wednesday 10 January «a good starting point. On which we can now work to circumscribe the contours of a phenomenon that has been under observation for years.”

Maria Luigia Franceschelli, Counsel of Hogan Lovells, International Law Firm

The European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders announced last October the launch of an investigation to identify influencers who follow unfair practices, to the detriment of consumers and certain segments of the population in particular. The operation was decided by Brussels also in light of the dimension assumed by a constantly growing phenomenon which, according to estimates, will have a value of almost 20 billion euros this year.

But it’s not just a question of money. «The key issue lies in the fact that some influencers and brands sometimes do not make the existence of their commercial relationship clear in the content disseminated to promote the brand’s products. It is a problem of transparency that has clearly become central”, underlines the lawyer Maria Luigia Franceschelli.

It should be noted that the phenomenon of influencer marketing is now consolidated. Consumers know more about the past than the phenomenon they are faced with. But still in a position of imbalance and disadvantage. «We will see if and to what extent the monitoring of the EU Commission – points out the lawyer Franceschelli – will confirm the sensation of a lack of application of the rules by brands and influencers. Some are reluctant to include those measures, such as hashtags, required by law and reiterated by the authorities in various decisions, because they would distort the content or make it less persuasive”.

Agcom’s guidelines represent an important point, agrees Hogan Lovells Counsel, from which to start. “The decision to apply the obligations established for audiovisual media services to the most followed digital creators is an important evolutionary step.” But for everything to succeed «there must be an involvement of the various subjects involved in the technical table to clearly define the criteria and contours. I am thinking of communication agencies or even agencies that look after the interests of influencers. The phenomenon is complex. And unfortunately there are no shortcuts.”

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