August’s ASA Rulings Recap
Our Compliance Manager, Amy Powell, takes a look at Advertising Standards Authority’s latest rulings, and the impact they have on the industry.
Reality TV star and Influencer, Olivia Buckland was ruled against for promoting Cocoa Brown fake tan without clear disclosure of a commercial relationship.
The ASA received a compliant challenging whether the post was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication. They took the view that she was paid to market their products and that Cocoa Brown had some control over any content she produced. Although she included the term “brand ambassador” in her bio, it was unlikely to be seen by Instagram users at the point they were viewing individual advertising posts.
Impact: Influencers absolutely must label each individual advertorial post as such. It is not enough to state that they are a Brand Ambassador on their profile page alone. The usual rules of labelling apply here.
Influencer Jemma Lucy was ruled against for promoting the weight loss benefits of Skinny Caffe when it was public knowledge that she was pregnant.
The ASA investigated after receiving 25 complaints and ruled that the post didn’t adequately disclose a commercial relationship and, more importantly, “the ad encouraged an unsafe practice and was irresponsible” because she was seen to be promoting weight loss during pregnancy.
Impact: The usual advice regarding labelling advertorial content accurately still stands – #ad or Paid Partnership With, needs to be used. However, more significantly, brands that are claiming weight loss or health/nutritional benefits need to seriously consider which Influencers they are using to promote their products and what this could imply to their audience further down the chain of communication. Read more about the Ruling here.
Following complaints from the public, VW had their TV advert banned under the new ASA rules designed to reduce gender stereotyping. VW said that it’s ad was not sexist for portraying a mum with a new born vs men in adventurous and daring roles.
Impact: Brands need to seriously consider how this rule impacts adverts that they have already created and paid for their space in the media. Lots of brands and law firms (including Lewis Silkin) are calling the ASA to reconsider their “stringent approach” to policing this rule, but even tongue-in-cheek adverts such as the Philadelphia promotion have capacity to cause “widespread offence” and receive an uncompliant ruling.
Gambling app Football Index featured players under the age of 25 such as Raheem Sterling, therefore breaking the CAP Code rule stating that nobody under 25 should be depicted gambling or play a significant role in a gambling advert unless the ad is displayed in a place where a bet can be made, such as a bookmaker’s premises or website. Their placement on the app broke this rule.
Impact: All content promoting gambling services need to refrain from using imagery of people – famous or not – who either appear to be or are under the age of 25. The only exception to this is when the imagery is used directly on the website where the bet can be placed.
Even governmental departments are not free from reprisal when it comes to uncompliant rulings. The ASA have stated that their advert regarding residency for EU citizens was misleading because it didn’t state fully what was required of applicants and made it sound simpler than it was.
Impact: Every advert must state clearly and accurately all significant conditions and requirements, even when the advert isn’t featuring a promotion, but simply promoting a service. The need for clear call to actions cannot be underestimated in order to avoid claims of misleading your target audience. Read more about the Ruling here.