ASA ruling | STYLIDEAS Ltd
Labelling social media communications, Influencers/ celebrities, Brands/ retail
- The message to influencers and brands is that even if an influencer has a well-known commercial relationship or collaboration with a brand, don’t assume that that is enough to mean commercial intent is obvious from related social media marketing communications. The posts themselves need to make this expressly clear.
- This ASA ruling reinforces the ASA’s current approach to the labelling of influencer/celebrity posts. The public’s understanding of what is an advert is assumed to be low and labelling with #ad continues to be key to avoiding risk. This low threshold of public understanding follows in the footsteps of the recent Zoella/ASOS ASA ruling where the public was assumed not to understand #affiliate and the label was held not to make commercial intent obviously identifiable.
Lord Alan Sugar tweeted that a product from the brand “Stylsmile” would make a “perfect Xmas gift” and included a link to the Stylesmile website stating that readers could find more details and purchase the product via the link.
On 6 May 2020 the ASA ruled that Lord Sugar had a commercial relationship with the brand (as a director and partner of Styleideas Ltd) and that the Tweet promoted the product and was directly connected with the supply of the product. As such it was an advert and therefore needed to comply with the ASA’s rules: namely, that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable and must make clear commercial intent if that is not obvious from the context. Lord Sugar’s advisors argued that his connection with the brand was a well-known fact: Stylsmile UK was a business run by a winner of the TV show The Apprentice and Lord Sugar. The partnership was made public on a primetime TV show in front of millions of viewers. They said Lord Sugar was known to post about his businesses on a daily basis on social media and the Tweet was not a ‘covert promotion’.
The ASA rejected the argument, finding that although Lord Sugar was a well-known investor, it was not immediately clear to all consumers that he had a commercial interest in Stylsmile UK from the Tweet itself. Accordingly the ASA concluded that the commercial intent behind the Tweet was not made clear upfront and it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication. The ASA ruled that the commercial intent of posts must be clear in future, including by using the #ad.
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