Unethical practices in skateboard forums

Strategic product placement

Header image of facebook group with a skateboard equiped prominently with Dont Trip trucks
Picture 1 (source)

Companies have to advertise their products. Online communities for niche sports like distance skating are the only platform companies have to advertise. If this seems obvious to you, then it must also be obvious to companies and to community organizers. Some companies get prime spots, for maximum exposure. Dont Trip and Orangatang/Loaded got the f/b LDP group header image (picture 1). Well done.

Influencer programmes

Picture 2 (source)

I am convinced that not only online skateboard communities are the only platform which companies can use to advertise on, but that they have gotten insensitive to the ethical consequences this brings. Instead of a world where marketing and community leaders are aware and sensitive to this limitation, we have a world where companies unashamedly promote their “community influencer” programmes. Case in point, Loaded (picture 2).

This is not illegal, of course; as long as the “affiliates” do disclose their affiliations. It does ring somewhat cynical though.

Undisclosed partnerships

Mr. Andras's forum post appearing to promote products without disclosing affiliations
Picture 3 (complete thread)

Disclosing affiliates and partnerships on social media before posting promotions disguised as innocent suggestions is self-evident. Or so I thought. Here’s Andrew Andras (top athlete in long distance skateboarding) pushing one after the other three products and discrediting one other. All he needed was four hastily written lines.

First, the question by the forum member looking for advice. Then, Andrew plugs everything. No explanations, no substantiation, no information. And of course, no affiliates disclosure (picture 3).

Picture 4 (complete thread)

After confronting him about it (picture 4), he offered a deep and profound insight. Before that, I had tried in vain to explain about the possible illegality of his practice, whereby he had doubled down and kept promoting the products (picture 5 for the whole dialogue that ensued). To be fair, at that point it was entirely out in the open that he is sponsored by these brands, so it was fine that he did so.

Picture 5 (complete thread)

Here’s some proof of Andrew’s affiliations.

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