Ethics

WOM UK members uphold the Word of Mouth Code of Ethics developed by our partner WOMMA in the US. The basic code is below but for full details of enforcement and review of the Code, visit WOMMA here. We are deeply committed to best practice and ethics in WOM marketing and will be providing further updates and educative events on the subject for our members; keep an eye on the blog for the latest news.

Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct 
for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association

The code was officially updated 9/21/2009.

Preamble

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (“WOMMA”) is an official trade associations that represent the interests of the word of mouth and social media industry. WOMMA is committed to building a prosperous industry that is based upon best practices, effective standards, and responsible leadership. A central mission of WOMMA is to create an environment of trust between consumers and marketers. Members of WOMMA seek to enhance the meaningful development of their fellow members, the industry, and their customers, and are committed to compliance with laws and regulations that govern the prevention of unfair, deceptive or misleading marketing practices. 

Therefore, members of WOMMA and WOM UK strive to:


Maintain the highest standards of business conduct, by using only legal and ethical means in their business activity;
Observe all applicable laws, regulations, and rules pertaining to their marketing practices;
Actively promote and encourage the highest level of integrity within the industry;
Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other members and work with them in the advancement of the industry;
Lead by example and adhere to ethical standards that even may exceed those required by law; and
Commit to the development and use of the most effective standards and practices to promote consumer protection.


As a result, members of WOMMA share in the following core values:

Trust
: WOMMA members are committed to engaging in practices and policies that promote an environment of trust between the consumer and marketer. 

Integrity: WOMMA members pledge to comply with the requirements of applicable laws, regulations, and rules concerning the prevention of unfair, deceptive or misleading advertising and marketing practices. In particular, WOMMA members promote honesty and transparency in their practices and methods, such that all forms of consumer manipulation are rejected. Indeed, advertising is a creative enterprise that strives to convince the consumer that the advertiser’s product or service is necessary and valuable, but in the course of engaging with the consumers, WOMMA members are committed to avoiding consumer deception as an end result of their marketing practices. As a result, WOMMA members engage in practices that are designed to enable the reasonable consumer acting rationally to make better informed purchasing decisions. 

Respect: WOMMA members promote and abide by practices that focus on consumer welfare. WOMMA members believe that the industry is best served by recognizing that the consumer, not the marketer, is fundamentally in charge and control, and that it is the consumer that defines the terms of the consumer-marketer relationship. 

Honesty: WOMMA members believe that consumers should be free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Simply put, WOMMA members do not support any efforts that tell others what to say or how to say it. 

Responsibility: WOMMA members believe that working with minors in marketing programs requires sensitivity and care, given their particular vulnerability to manipulation and deception. 

Privacy: WOMMA members respect the privacy of consumers, and encourages practices that promote the most effective means to promote privacy, such as opt-in and permission standards.


Conditions for Membership into WOMMA

To qualify for and maintain a membership in WOMMA, the applicant or Member shall:

Share in the core values as set forth in the Code of Ethics and strictly abide by the “Standards of Conduct Required of WOMMA Members;”

Supply accurate and complete information on the nature of the applicant or Member’s business and background, including information concerning the company’s principals and management personnel;

Not having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or fraud by a court of competent jurisdiction;

Cooperate with and abide by WOMMA’s self-regulatory efforts, its complaint resolution programs, and other association rules;

Promptly respond to all complaints forwarded by WOMMA or from any  official complaint resolution program, make a good faith and reasonable effort to resolve all such complaints in accordance with generally accepted and proper business practices, and to comply with the terms of any findings issued; and

Meet its financial obligations, including, without limitation, financial obligations to WOMMA.


Purpose of the Code of Ethics

WOMMA has adopted a Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct as a requirement of membership into the association, with the hope that the Code and Standards reflect an attempt by industry members to “do the right thing” by engaging in responsible self-regulatory efforts concerning their marketing practices. The fulcrum of the Code and Standards is the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission. See 16 C.F.R. §§ 255.0–255.5. 

WOMMA, however, is obviously not an agent or representative of any governmental regulator or law enforcement agency, and its views are not intended to represent any formal or informal interpretations of any laws or regulations. 

Standards of Conduct Required of WOMMA Members

Standard 1 Disclosure of identity:  A WOMMA member shall require their  representatives1 to make meaningful disclosures of  their relationships or identities with consumers in relation to the marketing initiatives that could influence a consumer’s purchasing decisions.

Standard 2 Disclosure of consideration or compensation received:  A WOMMA member shall require their representatives to disclose meaningfully and prominently all forms of consideration or compensation they received from the member, marketer or sponsor of the product or service.  In other words, WOMMA members shall not engage in marketing practices where the marketer/sponsor or its representative provides goods, services, or compensation to the consumer (or communicator) as consideration for recommendations, reviews, or endorsements, unless full, meaningful, and prominent disclosure is provided. 

Standard 3 Disclosure of relationship: A WOMMA member shall require their  representatives involved in a word of mouth initiative to disclose the material aspects of their commercial relationship with a marketer, including the specific type of any remuneration or consideration received.

Standard 4 Compliance with FTC Guides: A WOMMA member shall comply with the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission.  See 16 C.F.R. §§ 255.0–255.5. 

Standard 5Genuine honesty in communication: A WOMMA member shall not tell their  representatives what to ultimately state in their communications about a particular product or service, so as to enable the consumer to reflect his or her honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences.

Standard 6 Respect for venue: A WOMMA member shall respect the rights of any online or offline communications venue (such as a web site, blog, discussion forum, traditional media, and live setting) to create and enforce its own rules as it sees fit. 

Standard 7 Marketing to children and adolescents: A WOMMA member shall not include children under the age of 13 in any of its word of mouth marketing programs or campaigns; and shall comply with all applicable laws dealing with minors and marketing, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).  See 16 C.F.R. § 312.

Standard 8 Compliance with media-specific rules: A WOMMA member shall comply with existing media-specific rules regarding marketing to children.

1 The term “representative” is intended to be construed broadly, so as, for example, to include vendors of marketing initiatives.

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