Product Endorsement Deals, Sponsored Content, Collaborations – what to look out for

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Are you seeking to give your brand and products more exposure through strategic product placement on social media or at events? Here is a useful article written by the MIA’s intellectual property partner, Briffa, which will give you tips on product endorsement in the music industry…

Product endorsement deals are a great tool, as they make it possible for products to be seen by a very large audience, for a fraction of the price of traditional advertising – and can provide a neat source of income as well as perks and freebies!

If you are considering paying musicians or other social media influencers (or simply sending out freebies) to use and promote your products, there are some important issues which you need to consider before anything can be agreed.

Product endorsement in the music industry

Product endorsement deals are particularly attractive in the music industry. After all, when musicians appear in public, they are usually accompanied by their instrument, which is a huge opportunity to raise your brand’s profile – especially if you are not yet a household name like Marshall or Zildjian.

Product endorsement deals can be beneficial at any level of the industry. Professional musicians performing live are a great example of course, but endorsements may also cover all sorts of photoshoots, music videos, “behind the scenes” content and, crucially, social media.

Amateur musicians and online tutors who post extensively on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram are also a good example of media in which the brand of the instruments used will feature prominently, all of which may increase brand recognition in exchange for a few freebies.

Discuss and agree the key terms

This may sound obvious, but both parties need to make sure they are on the same page. If you pay a social media user to post sponsored content, how many posts are required? What social media platforms are covered by the deal? Do the posts need to be a certain number of days apart? How prominently does the product need to feature?

Exclusivity and duration are particularly important considerations – does endorsing one product mean that you can no longer use competitors’ products? And for how long?

For example, if you pay a drummer to use your products, does that prevent him from ever using competing products in his live or studio set up?

These are just some examples of the many issues you need discuss with the other party as early as possible, to avoid any disagreements later on.

Get it in writing

As with any commercial agreement, it is always best to have a written, signed contract between the parties. The key benefit of a written contract is that it encourages the parties to discuss the precise terms of the deal, and hopefully understand each of its provisions, before signing. Of course, a written contract is also easier to enforce in the event of a dispute later on.

If, for whatever reason, it is not possible or desirable to get a written contract, make sure you keep a record of the key terms in writing, in case you need to rely on them later. For example, save any emails, DMs or text messages (screenshots if necessary) of any discussions in which terms are agreed.

Consider any T&Cs of the relevant platform

Most social media sites and platforms have their own guidelines on sponsored content – this is usually found in the Terms and Conditions. Make sure you read through those before agreeing a deal, and remember that different platforms may have different rules.

Any agreement between brand and influencer also needs to consider who is responsible for checking this, as non-compliance could result in the sponsored content being taken down, or even an account being frozen or banned.

Make sure you comply with the ASA’s published guidance

The Advertising Standards Agency monitors and regulates advertising in the UK. Because of the increase in sponsored content on social media and so-called “viral” advertising, the ASA have started putting pressure on social media platforms to make it abundantly clear which posts are sponsored.

The ASA have recently published extremely helpful guidance on the subject, which is available here. It is vital for both brands and influencers to consider, and fully understand this guidance, as non-compliance can lead to ASA sanctions.

For example, the guidance explains that sponsored content needs to be clearly marked as such, through hashtags such as #ad, #advert, #advertising etc. Wording like “sponsored content”, “in association with”, “thanks to [brand]” is not sufficient to comply with this provision.

The guidance also flags that for some types of product, which are subject to heavier regulation (food, alcohol, medication) great care must be taken even with sponsored content.

Ensure there are no conflicts

Finally, always keep track of both your current endorsement deals, as well as those of the other party to the deal.

You need to stay on top of your own deals to ensure you are not breaching a clause preventing you from entering into an agreement with a competitor, or for a certain type of product. This could cause liability for breach of contract, and effectively jeopardise two endorsements.

Doing your research, and being aware of the other party’s current deals is just as important. You want to avoid signing a deal, only to find out later that the musician or influencer’s other sponsored content is completely at odds with your brand and values, as this may attract negative publicity.

How we can help

These are only some of the issues which you need to have on your radar when considering an endorsement of any kind. It is always best to seek independent legal advice when entering into a binding agreement, to ensure that you fully understand the terms of the contract you are signing, but also to limit your liability as much as possible if things do go wrong.

Some specialist law firms offer discounted fees for social media endorsement agreements, so it is always worth getting in touch as early as possible to avoid nasty surprises with your latest sponsored content.

Don’t forget that MIA members benefit from a free thirty minute consultation and special rates on all intellectual property and general commercial matters

For further information contact info@briffa.com or go to www.briffa.com/