SEOUL, April 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Audi Volkswagen Korea has come up short in a suit filed against the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) after facing sanctions for paying power bloggers to write positive reviews about its vehicles.
On April 7, The Seoul High Court ruled that Audi failed in its appeal against the FTC. The plaintiff (Audi) had asked for the withdrawal of previously imposed fine and corrective order.
In 2014, the FTC fined Audi 94 million won for paying bloggers to upload commercial literature without notice, deceiving consumers.
Prior to the incident, Audi had signed a deal with an advertising agency and paid the company 12 million won. The agency outsourced viral marketing to an online marketing agency, which paid 20 bloggers to upload positive reviews for Audi vehicles.
Audi claimed innocence, as all responsibility regarding marketing and advertising was handed over to the advertising agencies, and the company never asked the bloggers to hide the fact that they were paid to write posts to advertise its vehicles. Audi officials stated that the penalty was too high, as the effect of the advertisements on consumers was minimal.
However, the court ruled that Audi was responsible for the act, as emails sent between Audi and its marketing agency contained phrases such as ‘the content was created without exposing commercial intention’, proving that Audi checked the procedures before execution.
The court went on to explain that Audi’s advertising scheme was well orchestrated. “Most of the advertisements for the vehicles were conducted by power bloggers, who would have cast much influence on consumers’ purchase decisions. Some flaws were also introduced, which escalated the credibility of the content. This element may have deceived consumers even more,” court officials pointed out.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)