Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc. has settled its Federal Trade Commission charges from 2014 in regards to a marketing campaign for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, in which it deceived consumers by paying off “influencers” to promote the game.
It was deemed by the FTC that during the marketing campaign for Shadow of Mordor, released on Xbox 360 and PS3, that the company had failed to adequately disclose that it had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to online “influencers,” including YouTuber PewDiePie to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and across social media. PewDiePie’s video alone raked in 3.7 million views.
Through the use of its advertising agency Plaid Social Labs, LLC, Warner Bros. hired influencers to develop sponsored gameplay videos before posting them on YouTube, they were also told to promote the videos on Twitter and Facebook, generating millions of views, while not disclosing any issues with the game such as bugs and glitches. PewDiePie’s video alone raked in 3.7 million views.
Warner Bros. is now barred from failing to make such disclosures in the future and cannot misrepresent that sponsored content, including gameplay videos, are the objective, independent opinions of video game enthusiasts or influencers.