While there's been no doubt that most fashion magazines tend to play favorites with certain labels and designers in their editorials and fashion spreads, that fact became unignorable last week when Racked revealed a discovered list put out by Harper's Bazaar, ranking a photo shoot's priority of designers and labels to use according to their status as advertisers and non-advertisers.
No doubt, Harper's Bazaar and its editorial staff must be red-faced over the disclosure of these deliberate advertiser plugs. But there's potential for things to get worse: now BNET is reporing that the FTC actually has the right to sue the magazine, as it appears to be in "blatant" violation of the FTC's latest guidelines for advertisers, including the following:
Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements, or for failing to disclose material connections between themselves and their endorsers. Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.
Since choosing to feature a designer's garment in a fashion shoot is considered an endorsement on the part of the magazine, it's arguably the responsibility of the Harper's Bazaar to reveal any "material connections" between the advertisers and itself, the endorser.
Although Bazaar is under the most scrutiny now due to that embarrassing list, these rules might apply to any and all fashion publications featuring editorial photo spreads—and most likely will if legal action is indeed taken.