Instagram Hurt the Reality Star

Some decisions of the UK Advertising Standards Authority have just been released over the past few days.

They provide some insights relevant to marketers in New Zealand.

First, UK reality tv star, Stephanie Davis posted a vitamins promotion on her Instagram page. The text stated

“Just wanted to let you all know about @convitsuk - a great daily vitamin & mineral company I have just started using … Get your exclusive 50% off online today with code STEPH50”. [Love heart emoji]”

A person complained to the ASA saying that this was not obviously identified as an advertisement.

In the UK, marketing communications such as advertorials must be obviously identifiable as such.

While the ASA noted that the post included the handle @convitsuk and also included an exclusive discount code which consumers could use, it considered that those elements were not sufficient to indicate to users that the post was a marketing communication.

If this complaint had been made in NZ the outcome would likely have been the same:  see the NZ ASA Guidance Notes on Advertising on Social Media.  The post would likely be treated as an “advertisement”, over which the advertiser had reasonable control (meaning that the Complaints Board had jurisdiction to deal with the matter) and would likely breach rule one of the Advertising Code of Ethics which requires advertisements to be clearly distinguishable as such. 

Lesson:  where the social media influencer is being paid by the brand, advertorials and endorsements should be obviously identifiable as advertisements.

I will deal with another case next time.