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Staying up to Date with Social Media and the ASA

Following last months’ news from the Advertising Standards Authority which stated that those who continue to flout the ASA and CAP guidelines would be ‘named and shamed’, we are beginning to see examples of this statement coming to life.

The ASA is quick to become aware of the latest social media trends and its website regularly provides news pieces and updates on how to abide by the rules when new trends arise. A recent example of this follows a rise in the popularity of ‘hard seltzers’ (alcoholic sparkling water). Ads and promotions for hard seltzers are popping up all over social media feeds, attracting consumers with claims that the drinks are ‘healthy’.

In this case, the ASA released an article noting the different marketing claims that brands should be aware of when shaping their marketing strategies. The ASA said: “​​Ads for Hard Seltzer drinks have often associated them with a modern, conscious consumer who cares about what they put into their bodies. So marketers should be especially cautious not to make unauthorised health or nutrition claims about Hard Seltzers, or to mislead about the amount of alcohol they contain.”

Despite regular guidance from the ASA and CAP being shared in order to avoid sanctioning brands, marketers, and influencers – there have unfortunately been examples of recent rule breakings where the naming and shaming has come into play. 

Influencer Charlotte Dawson fails to disclose beauty filter and affiliate collaboration

Just last week, influencer Charlotte Dawson, who rose to popularity on reality television, was reported to have broken two of the ASA guidelines in a cosmetic campaign shared with her 1.3 million Instagram followers. 

Charlotte’s posts received complaints regarding the clarity of her #AD disclosure, as well as suggestions that she had used filters to exaggerate the effectiveness of the products. Charlotte shared a series of stories in collaboration with BPerfect Cosmetics. Each story post featured a swipe-up link to BP Cosmetics’ website, as well as text that stated “USE MY CODE CHARLOTTE20 FOR 20% OFF IT’S A YES FROM ME … @BPERFECTCOSMETICS”.

The complaint about unclear disclosure was in regards to the placement of the #AD text. We are familiar with the ASA rule that if the text stating that the post is an advert or contains an affiliate link is obscured, this does not meet the advertising standards. One of Charlotte’s stories featured the label “#AD” in white lettering placed over a white dress that she was wearing. This claim was upheld by the ASA as they concluded the story posts were ‘not obviously identifiable as marketing communications and did not make clear their commercial intent in breach of the Code’.

BPerfect stated that they reminded Charlotte that beauty filters shouldn’t be used to enhance the effect of a product. The claim regarding Charlotte’s use of beauty filters was also upheld by the ASA as it was considered that consumers would expect to experience similar results to Charlottes’ appearance in the ads, stating: “We understood that the filter ‘Luxurious’ by [Instagram user] amendima1 gave skin a softer, slightly tanned, and smoother complexion.” 

By assessing the latest upheld rulings from the ASA, it is clear that the importance of influencer and social media users following the guidelines is of paramount importance. By naming those who are not adhering to the guidelines, consumers are able to be more conscious when engaging with influencers and making purchases based on influencer recommendations.

2 comments

  1. Good points Neve, it’s always best of course to adhere to the guideline just to be on the safe side from a business owner’s point of view but as you mention, it can work both ways in helping to protect consumers more.

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