Japan set to crack down on stealth marketing, online or offline

Japan is set to regulate stealth marketing, a practice in which companies pay influencers or celebrities to advertise a product or service under the guise of a genuine opinion, whether conducted online or offline, government sources said Sunday.

The Consumer Affairs Agency is expected to classify stealth marketing as "improper representation," one of the corporate activities prohibited under the law against unjustifiable premiums and misleading representations, according to a draft report compiled in November.

The report, which is likely to be finalized Tuesday, states that the lack of disclosure in stealth marketing is considered problematic as it interferes with a consumer's ability to make rational purchasing decisions.

While the law does prohibit portraying products in advertisements as better than they are, there are currently no provisions that directly address stealth marketing.

But calls to implement regulations against the practice have arisen in light of limitations in self-regulating within the industry, and the fact that such regulations already exist in many other countries.

Violators will be subject to administrative punishment, including an order to prevent a repeat of the incident and naming-and-shaming.

© Kyodo News