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How A Viral TikTok Video Led The City Of Wichita To Start Requiring Paid Content Labeling


How A Viral TikTok Video Led The City Of Wichita To Start Requiring Paid Content Labeling

A TikTok video that went unlabeled as a paid promotion has spurred the City of Wichita to tighten the regulations for influencer marketing campaigns. 

The viral pothole repair clip from a local creator was sponsored content commissioned by the city, but the paid partnership was not properly disclosed as required by federal guidelines, Kansas City Public Radio (KCUR) reported.

As a response, Wichita has now made it mandatory to have clear labels on any influencer posts and digital content that the municipal government financially compensates. This step aligns the city with recent Federal Trade Commission rules, which stipulate fines against brands and influencers who fail to label paid endorsements prominently.

“Our main priority is connecting with residents through effective channels,” city spokesperson Megan Lovely said, KCUR reported. “As we adapt our marketing approach, ensuring full transparency with disclosure labels is crucial.”

Records reveal Wichita’s influencer marketing push began modestly in 2021 by promoting parks and recreation programs. However, annual expenditures swelled to around $26,000 last year, contracting popular accounts like Wichita Life and Wichita by E.B. for sponsored posts and package deals.

The city contends influencers offer unmatched cost-efficiency compared to traditional ad buys. A municipal survey showed social media was residents’ top local news source, underscoring the power of influencer channels to raise awareness.

“If there’s any undisclosed connection between an influencer and a brand, that erodes trust with their audience,” warned marketing professor Jenny Heinrich of DePaul University. “Both influencers and brands can face FTC fines for consistent violations.”

In addition to the city, the Wichita Airport Authority has likewise tapped influencers – including a nearly $5,000 annual partnership with Wichita by E.B. involving blog and social promotions. One of the influencer’s past airport event posts, however, lacked paid endorsement disclosures before the new guidelines.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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