American fashion brand, Cole Haan, drew a bit of unwanted attention recently thanks to a Pinterest contest. Turns out, according to the Federal Trade Commission, Cole Haan's “Wandering Sole” contest, which called on Pinterest users to create boards with images of five Cole Haan shoes for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree, was not properly executed. Cole Haan told users to use the hashtag #WanderingSole with their photos, but didn't instruct people to make it clear that they posted the pins as part of a contest.
In a letter to Cole Haan, the FTC, the government regulatory body aimed at preventing business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers, claims that the contest “violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45" - the section of the FTC Act that protects consumers against “Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices.” While the FTC said that it does not plan to bring a consumer deception case against the brand, this is a good reminder to all brands to disclose (and tell contest participants to disclose) any sponsorships or material connections.