Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop probably broke the law

Chopard Flagship Boutique  Launch in Hotel La Mamounia

Back during the Thanksgiving holiday, Gwyneth Paltrow was one of several big-name celebrities to make a paid appearance at a boutique opening in Marrakesh, Morocco. No one really thought anything of it, besides “random” and “Gwyneth’s dress is pretty.” Then, a few weeks later, Gwyneth snotted out a very special Goop newsletter, all about her guided tour of Marrakesh and how we should all travel there in spare time. This could be a big problem for Goopy! This is because Gwyneth probably didn’t have to pay for any of the crap she was writing about in her Goop newsletter – she likely received all of that stuff for free, and if that’s the case (probably), Gwyneth violated new guidelines for bloggers and paid endorsements set down by the Federal Trade Commission. Jezebel explains it better:

Gwyneth’s latest GOOP, published yesterday, concerns her “very impromptu” trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. But since it’s very unlikely she paid for her accommodations there, she may have run afoul of new Federal Trade Commission guidelines concerning endorsements.

Gwyneth describes her stay at “the revamped historic La Mamounia Hotel,” where she enjoyed “a daily Hammam treatment at the hotel’s spa. Get this: 15 minutes in a steam room, a full-body lather in Black Soap, an exfoliating rub down, a Ghassoul (Moroccan clay) body masque, and then a warm shower… Ridiculously lavish!” So did she pay for the privilege of getting steamed and lathered? Not likely, says Jeff Bercovici of Daily Finance. Apparently Gwyneth was one of several celebrity guests at the hotel’s gala reopening after its most recent renovation. According to the Daily Beast, the party included a procession led by architect Jacques Garcia: “As a phalanx of security stood guard, Garcia led La Mamounia’s red-carpet march, flanked by his outlandishly coiffed muse, Tess, and quickly followed by a succession of Arabian/American/Iberian/Anglo/Gallic celebrities.”

Throughout the night, said celebrities offered gushing sound bites like “I’ve had a longtime love affair with Morocco” (Juliette Binoche) and “those beautiful gardens, the attention to detail – La Mamounia has a tremendous sense of the past” (Adrien Brody). Gwyneth apparently retreated into a private “palace of privilege” right after her red carpet appearance, and had to deliver her praise via the web instead.

Therein lies the problem. An anonymous booker tells Bercovici that there’s “not a chance in hell” Gwyneth paid her own way at La Mamounia. The booker continues, “I’m sure they were comped the entire thing. If you’re going to go on a holiday over Thanksgiving, you don’t go somewhere you know there are going to be photographers if you’re paying.”

And, according to new FTC guidelines issued last month, both celebrities and rank-and-file bloggers are supposed to disclose any free goods they received if they make endorsements via online media. Some have argued that this disclosure rule isn’t enforced for print journalists, and that bloggers are being unfairly targeted. Others are concerned that trolls will take this opportunity to report blogs they don’t like. There’s also the issue of enforcement. Back in June, Caroline McCarthy of CNET wrote, “[D]oes the FTC realize just how many small-time bloggers are out there? Championing business ethics is a worthy goal, but, um, good luck getting much done when there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there and new ones popping up more or less daily. Ever heard of the expression “herding cats”?”

Of course, Gwyneth is a very big cat indeed, and the FTC might send a louder message by fining her (the penalty for undisclosed freebies is up to $11,000) than it would by targeting smaller bloggers. Bercovici says the big fines are meant mainly for advertisers — “still,” he writes, “I contacted an FTC spokeswoman to ask how it would determine whether Paltrow violated the guidelines — and what, if any, steps it would take in the event that she had.”

No response yet — but in a world where the richest people sometimes seem to get the most free shit, it would be nice if Gwyneth, Brody, et al had to disclose the motivations behind their praise. Regular readers of GOOP probably understand that the newsletter promulgates a lifestyle that’s unattainable for most people — after all, Gwynnie “can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.” Still, it might be nice if we all got an explicit disclosure that her “life is good because [she's] not passive about it” — and because companies aren’t passive about courting her favor with freebies. And while we’re at it, could someone teach her the difference between “it’s” and “its?”

[From Jezebel]

Yeah, I’m actually kind of “meh” on this. If Gwyneth did receive all of this crap for free, then wrote about it glowingly on Goop, recommending we pay for these services, then she’s a total fraud (which wouldn’t be a surprise to most of us). On the off-chance that she did pay for these services, then who cares? She paid for some crap and then recommended we live the same pampered, exotic life.

I’m sorry to hear that I could be fined on the off chance some studio might send me something cool. Which they never do. But just because I might accept a “gift” (say, Gerard Butler with a festive bow on his wang), doesn’t mean I’ll rave or endorse anything. I wonder if you can still be fined for taking free sh-t and then bashing it?

Chopard Flagship Boutique  Launch in Hotel La Mamounia

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29 Responses to “Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop probably broke the law”

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  1. hatsumomo says:

    Really Kaiser? Y’all don’t get any perks for this blog?! Its awesome though!

    I watch the What the Buck show & The Philip Defranco Show on youtube and they always get sent stuff from fans. Maybe I’ll send some toesie socks? or a snuggie?

  2. Praise St. Angie! says:

    “say, Gerard Butler with a festive bow on his wang”

    oh, you SLAY me!

  3. princess pea says:

    @ Kaiser – As far as I understand, you don’t have to disclose getting a present UNLESS you review/report on it. So if, for example, some movie studio sent you a wang-beribboned Mr. Butler and you didn’t gush about it that would be okay. It would understandably be unfair to you, though, so all you’d have to do is say upfront (or anywhere in the post, actually), that you were given Gerard as a gift. Then it’s all good. The regulation’s not saying Gwynnie can’t review shit all the live long day, just that if she gets that shit for free she has to mention it.

  4. lucy2 says:

    I say GOOP goes to jail!

    Just kidding, of course. I do find it funny that she’s been semi-busted for accepting all the free stuff celebs always do and then telling other people to spend their hard earned money on it.

    I’d be a lot more forgiving of her and her GOOPiness if she weren’t so high and mighty, and had actually lived like a regular person at some point in her life. I could see a site like that actually being fun if a down to earth celeb with great style did it, but Gwennie always just seems so stuck up.

  5. Kaiser says:

    Oh, I think I understand now. So, if a studio sent me Gerry as a special Christmas present (cough cough it could happen cough), and then I wrote about his wang (as I do often), I would just have to do full disclosure. Like: “ATTENTION – Paramount sent me Gerard Butler!!!”

  6. princess pea says:

    You got it! I look forward to the happy news, should make for awesome reading! It COULD happen… right?

  7. danielle says:

    Yes Kaiser, and then you would have to give us ALL the details! :^)

  8. wow says:

    Celebs do this all the time. Sort of similar to celebs geing given free cars or free meals when they can certainly pay for them. But if a homeless person wants a meal, I highly doubt the same places would let them in the door.

    Is it illegal for celebs to not have to pay taxes on all of those lavish gifts they get for free in those gifting suites during award shows like The Oscars or Golden Globes. Celebs are given perks and recieve comps all the time. While it may not be fair, I don’t see how its now illegal.

  9. chickentikkatellmewhatswrong says:

    Er, isn’t Goop updated and maintained primarily in the UK? If that is the case then the FTC doesn’t have a hope in hell of prosecuting…..
    That would just open up a plethora of potential cases based on bloggers in other jurisdictions breaking FTC guidelines…It’s just not tenable in any way.
    And the fact that Gwyneth is a US citizen doesn’t change this in any way..
    Im no fan of the Beige Woman – but I really don’t think she’s committed an offence for which she can be prosecuted.

  10. Essie says:

    Wow, it is only just now illegal because the law was passed only a month or so ago.

    This story is actually a bit late because it has already been determined (by someone) that Gwynnie did not break any laws. So, there you go!! Gwynnie won’t have to spend any time in jail or pay any fines. I’m ever so happy because I love Gwynnie and I don’t think she is as tough as Martha and would not do well in the pokey!!

  11. crash2GO2 says:

    Lol @Essie and everyone in this thread!

    Beribboned wang indeed. Sounds like a dandy stocking stuffer to me!

  12. Oh My says:

    I’m sorry to hear that I could be fined on the off chance some studio might send me something cool. Which they never do. But just because I might accept a “gift” (say, Gerard Butler with a festive bow on his wang), doesn’t mean I’ll rave or endorse anything.

    there’s no legal violation if you accept their gift; the violation comes about if you accept the gift, rave about on your blog and do not disclose that the product was provided to you gratis. The violation is for not disclosing yourself as providing what is a paid endorsement – if they give you something and you say it’s total shite, you’re not endorsing it so you’re in the clear.

  13. lrm says:

    i dont think she’s a fraud for not mentioning not paying [if that's true].

    I would never for a second assume she’s stayed [and paid]at any of the hotels she writes about.

    AND,same goes for restaurants-she probably gets comped at the ones she writes about,quite often.

    The difference here,though,may be that she was specifically asked by the hotel to write about it in GOOP?

    Then,i’d say look into it.

    Otherwise,I’m sure she’s trying to share stuff she likes [the whole point of writing GOOP],and often these likes are free for the likes of her!

    god-it makes me so annoyed-how these wealthy celebs get everything free on top of being rich. grrr….

  14. ccoop says:

    Personally, I think she ought to go to jail for wearing that dress. Not to mention the strap mark.

  15. KatyAlia says:

    Oh My: Do I understand that correctly that if I combine both criterea I could end up with this scenario:
    1. They send a free GB & it is disclosed that it was gratis… that makes it free and legal.
    2. You then have to publish it was complete ‘shite’.
    That calls for warranty of free refill/refurbish/replacement, right?

    Just a thought…

  16. Julia says:

    I have to say that, while I’m sure this law is well-intentioned, it seems rather silly to be upset with someone for praising a service, whether or not they received it for free. I mean, say a company says they will give me a truckload of something I like (Coke Zero, for example) if I say it’s awesome: presumably I’d have to like it in order to accept such an agreement.

    I understand that when more expensive things are concerned it’s not so simple, but I guess this just doesn’t even register on my radar of stuff that pisses me off, since there are so, so many things on that list. :P

    Well, that and no matter how awesome Goopy says a mud bath is, that doesn’t put money in my pocket to pay for it, so the point is moot for me.

  17. Cat says:

    I’m confused too! I thought celebs did this sort of thing all the time!

  18. CB Rawks says:

    Remember when people used to dye-in the black roots, to look like Madonna circa 1984?
    And that dress is stupid, because it’s skin-coloured. Always a ridiculous choice.
    Plus it has a weird t-shirt sleeve.

  19. Kathie says:

    Kaiser I hope you get your Christmas present! If you then choose to blog about it could you not pay (a token dollar) for the gift and then it’s on the up and up? Anyhoodle poor Goopy she is just too precious to live in this old world isn’t she?

  20. Lita says:

    It could be argued that ‘reviewing’ said beribboned wang would be payment ‘in. kind’ and as such you may fall foul of prostitution laws? Sigh. Who would have thought a sweet, simple Christmas gift like a beribboned wang could be so fraught with trouble? All I’m saying is be careful!!


  21. brista says:

    Er, isn’t Goop updated and maintained primarily in the UK? If that is the case then the FTC doesn’t have a hope in hell of prosecuting….

    I thought GOOP was headquartered in the middle of Manhattan in some super pricey building?

  22. diva says:

    The fact that anyone even reads Goop and cares about what she has to say is ridiculous.

  23. The Federal Government needs to worry about lobbyists, pork barrel spending, and crippling partisanship, not bloggers getting free socks. & I’m sure Gwyneth is unfamiliar with the term “pay”.

  24. moo says:

    I hate her hair. Grow up you dumbass! You are not 14 anymore!!!!

  25. Stephanie says:

    Can they fine her for being a pretentious sanctimonious bitch instead and sentence her to obscurity? That’d really make my holiday. :)

  26. the original kate says:

    there is a santa claus!

  27. ChiChi says:

    Glad to see that I’m not alone in despising this child-woman. Something about her and Kirsten Dunst and Clair Danes just annoys me terribly.
    I don’t think I personally am upset about her fake endorsements. The kind of people who actually read her crappy site would not be dissuaded by her lack of ethics.