ASA crack down on “hidden advertising” within Influencers’ Snapchat posts

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Earlier this week, reality television came head to head with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), when popular Geordie Shore star Marnie Simpson appeared to break ad rules on Snapchat receiving a record two Rulings in one week!

The star was pictured holding a branded dental whitening kit known as ‘Diamond Whites’ with text stating “50% off everything from Diamond Whites! Swipe up” and the link to the brand’s website. The main complaint was that the Snapchat star was a paid however this was not made clear or labelled on the her snap. The advert breached CAP Coded (Edition 12 rules 2.1 and 2.3)

Diamond Whites stated that because Marnie has been their  brand ambassador for a long period of time there was no need for the reality star to include an ad label as they were confident that her followers are aware of her relationship with the brand. Moving forward Marnie has been told that she can no longer post to social media without using ad labelling in the future.

Marnie’s Snapchat posts were the centre of a second ruling in the same week, this time for agency PR Unleashed’s client I Spy Eyes, a brand of coloured contact lenses that has a Marnie Simpson range. Although the Snap was a simple selfie of Marnie with the words “Mr Grey coming soon” without any mention of a product or a brand the ASA still felt that it was obviously advertising her grey coloured lenses.

Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA said “These might be our first Snapchat rulings, but the principle behind them is as old as the hills – ads, wherever they appear, must be obviously identifiable as ads. It’s just not fair to expect people to play the detective, to work out the status of a tweet, post or story.”

So what are the CAP Code Rules on Influencer Marketing:

  • Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable (rule 2.1)
  • Marketers and Influencers (otherwise known as publishers) must make clear that adverts are a form of marketing communications
  • Consumers MUST be aware of what is and what is not an advert
  • Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession; marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context (rule 2.3)

What are the labels to use?

  • Acceptable labels that can be used on a paid advert on any form of social media are as follows according to the CAP code.
  • #Ad
  • Advertising
  • Advertisement
  • Advertising Feature
  • Advert

The label should always indicate that some form of payment has prompted the ad and the label should be included in the commercialised content before the first consumer has even had the chance to reach the ad!

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