Finally, Khloé Kardashian announced what we all knew: she's pregnant. Congratulations, Khloé! Yay
I think I speak for the whole entire world when I say we are all very happy for Khloé! After her fans watched her go through some rough times over the last few years, what wonderful and happy news!
Of course, what's weird about this is that People magazine first reported that Khloé was pregnant all the way back in September. So for the last four months, we've all become amateur detectives and obstetricians, looking for evidence in photos and her social media to tell if she's actually pregnant or not. As a formerly pregnant person, I can confirm that it's hard to keep anyone from noticing you're, say, 8 months pregnant (although I do have a friend whose coworker didn't tell their boss she was pregnant until 8.5 months, so I guess it's possible).
Everyone was wondering how and when she'd finally reveal it – would it be on the show? Would she do a splashy Diane Sawyer TV interview? Would someone close to the family spill the beans?
Nope! Just a straightforward post to social media. Khloé is wearing a Calvin Klein sports bra and has a ring on her finger (mysterious, huh?).
But wait... that Calvin Klein sports bra... could... this be...
A #SPONSORED BABY ANNOUNCEMENT?
So... was Khloé's post an ad for Calvin Klein???
BuzzFeed News reached out to Calvin Klein's corporate press office to ask several specific questions. Was Khloé's post part of an endorsement deal? If not, was Calvin Klein aware that she'd be wearing the clothing in her post? If the family is indeed doing an ad campaign that will launch in early 2018, was this photo possibly part of a professional advertisement photoshoot?
Calvin Klein did not respond to these questions or a request for comment, even though my email tracker showed they opened the email 19 times. If they do respond, we will update.
So what would make this an "ad"?
The Federal Trade Commssion has guidelines for how people are supposed to label endorsements and ads on social media – things like how you should say #sponsored instead of just #sp because it's not totally clear what "sp" means.
It's a common misconception that it's only an "ad" if a celebrity or influencer is getting a pile of cash directly for posting that one specific Instagram about a product. It's also an ad if a celebrity has a long-term deal – like being "the face" of a brand, or a global ambassador, or is helping design their own collection for the brand.
These cases are often where celebrities have run afoul of the FTC rules for disclosing ads. A recent report found that of the top 50 celebrities on Instagram, most did ads, and of those that did ads, 93% of the ads were not properly disclosed. When BuzzFeed News looked at the specific ads that were in violation, we found that 49% of the time, the celebrity had a long-term sponsorship deal with a brand, especially clothing brands.
For example, in the past, Kendal Jenner is a spokesperson for Esteé Lauder, but in the past wouldn't always clearly disclose that relationship when she posted on Instagram and tagged the brand. In 2016, an advocacy group called Truth In Advertising sent a letter to the FTC complaining about the Kardashian/Jenners not labeling their ads, and pointed out examples of when long term endorsement deals were not properly disclosed. The Kardashians/Jenners went back and edited old posts after that letter to be in compliance.
If indeed the Kardashian/Jenner family is doing an advertisement deal with Calvin Klein, they would need to say #ad or #sponsored in any post where they are wearing Calvin Klein clothing. Even if Calvin Klein didn't pay Khloé to wear that bra specifically in this one post, if they have a deal in place where they will be paying her to be a spokesmodel, then that should be disclosed as an ad.
So, is this an ad?
If it is indeed true that Khloé Kardashian has an endorsement deal to star in an ad campaign with Calvin Klein, then yes, a post that prominently features that brand would be an ad. In that case, she should have labeled it in her post.
But since Calvin Klein did not confirm that there is an ad campaign deal in place, we don't know for sure.