Lord & Taylor’s Instagram Coup: #PRWin or Ethics Fail?

The ethics of influencer marketing are still very fuzzy.

lord and taylor

Earlier this week, Adweek ran a story that got many in the marketing industry buzzing: Lord & Taylor had achieved a social media coup by quickly selling every copy of a dress that was not “The Dress.”

CMO Michael Crotty said L&T wanted to reach the fashion-conscious consumer “where she is engaging and consuming content every day,” and the brand did just that with the help of 50 Instagram influencers.

There was, however, a catch: no one involved disclosed the fact that this was a paid promotional campaign. Followers and marketing professionals alike began to notice:

lord and taylor PAID 2

Is this practice OK legally and ethically? The FTC’s regulations aren’t always clear, but many in the industry say “no”:

For more takes on the subject, we spoke to Danielle Wiley, CEO of influencer agency Sway Group, and Ted Murphy, CEO of creator marketplace IZEA (who advised the FTC on its existing regulations). 

From Murphy:

“There are two issues here: What are you legally required to do, and what’s the right thing to do?”

From Wiley:

“If not disclosing is OK for Lord & Taylor, why isn’t it OK for us?”

Check out the full story on Adweek for more.