We are all aware of the influx of influencer-based advertising over the past few years, and the increased use of social media channels to help establish and promote a brand.
Sponsored posts have informally been used for many years, but regulation in this area is finally getting up to speed.
We have recently seen the ASA crack down on what they refer to as ‘misleading advertising’, and outline how influencers need to be clear when uploading posts of a promotional nature. More recently, there have also been developments in influencer marketing where brands have received complaints in relation to ‘irresponsible advertising’. Many are asking the all-important questions: what is the difference between misleading and irresponsible, and what should I be doing to protect my brand?
The ASA has made two rulings in this area over the past few weeks, which seek to identify what could be classed as ‘irresponsible advertising’.
Posts in relation to ‘weight loss gummies’ were featured on the Instagram pages of Team v24 (promoting their own product) and Georgia Harrison (a TV personality). Both posts emphasised the fact that the gummies could suppress hunger cravings, and support weight loss, and Georgia’s post was accompanied by an image of her promoting in athletic clothing, modelling ‘the perfect body’.
Whilst the post was advertised as a ‘paid partnership’, and arguably not misleading in that sense, the ASA took issue with the fact that both posts did not contain the relevant nutritional information required, and also promoted a diet product in an irresponsible manner. They noted that Georgia’s post was accompanied by an image that was most likely edited and did not represent her real body shape, but that would be aspired to, by those following her profile.
Posts in relation to BoomBod’s weight loss products were uploaded onto BoomBod’s own Instagram account, as well the accounts of Lauren Goodger and Katie Price. The ASA concluded that the claims in the adverts did not accurately reflect the relevant health claims and were therefore in breach of the CAP Code.
The ASA also took issue with the fact that the posts stated the products had made the users feel more confident, suggesting that if you are slim and you use these products to suppress your appetite, then this will also improve your confidence. This was again deemed irresponsible advertising.
In light of these rulings, what should brands, and their influencers, be aware of when promoting?
Contributor: Emily Broderick
If you are an influencer or brand and wish to discuss any aspect of this article, influencer marketing or sponsorship and brand campaigning more generally, please contact Susan Honeyands (Partner), Lisa Urwin (Legal Director) or Duncan Reed (Partner).
For more information on how the ASA classify ‘celebrities’, please click here.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at November 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions.