DJ Khaled, an American record producer, has been criticized by a number of advocacy groups including Public Citizen, Alcohol Justice and US Alcohol Policy Alliance, for allegedly failing to disclose his material connection to advertisers on his social media properties.
In an email addressed to Khaled’s legal representatives and published on Truth in Advertising (TINA), the group accused Khaled of violating Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules by promoting a range of alcohol brands without disclosing material connections to those brands.
The group states this is the case in the vast majority of the 300 posts it analyzed from Khaled’s accounts.
The group also alleges Khaled, in promoting alcohol to minors, is in violation of the policies of the top four social media websites.
According to the email, Khaled violated social media rules on promoting alcohol to minors 100 times on Snapchat, 190 times on Instagram, more than 30 times on Facebook and nearly 20 times on Twitter, between June 2017 and March 2018.
The group states “The deceptive impact and societal harm resulting from these risky and irresponsible ads cannot be overstated”.
The email goes onto cite a number of examples of communications it deems in violation of social media policies or FTC rules, including “Celebrate success right. Ciroc! The only way” and “Blue dot pon your head top”.
Khaled also refers to Belaire sparkling wines as “the gold key” and part of the “luxury life”. In promoting Bacardi’s D’Usse cognac, Khaled also refers to himself as “D’Usse Don”.
The group also alleges Khaled is engaged in product placement and highlights an Instagram post in which alcohol is positioned prominently while Khaled holds his son and signs a renewal contract with Epic Records.
It also draws attention to a video, posted in Instagram, in which Khaled is pouring wine beside Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. The video concludes with a Khaled voiceover stating “Celebrate success right. Apple Ciroc. The only way”.
In another video, Khaled can be seen pouring Belaire gold key into a bowl of cereal. Belaire subsequently posted this video to its own Instagram account with the message “Breakfast of Champions”.
The group states “…social media influencer marketing may be a particularly effective and insidious way of advertising alcohol to minors…because the goal of this type of marketing is to establish a genuine connection with the viewer by delivering ads that feel organic and authentic, and thereby are more likely to be trusted”.
The group also claims that Khaled published “dozens of undisclosed social media posts endorsing a multitude of goods and services that did not properly disclose Khaled’s material connection to the companies”.
According to an update on Truth in Advertising, in the ten days since the email was sent “Khaled has not actively promoted any alcohol brand on [Snapchat].”
However, it has seemingly been updated to state “This past Saturday night at rapper Rick Ross’ daughter’s sweet 16, a bottle of Belaire was in plain sight on DJ Khaled’s Snapchat as the tape rolled”.
It also states that while Khaled has added “#ad” to the messaging on 150 posts on Facebook and Instagram, and “deleted a dozen undisclosed alcohol ads on Twitter,” his posts are still in violation of social media rules about advertising alcohol to minors.