Abstract of air vent.

#ad your advertising posts on social media

Published on 02 August 2021

How much more reminding do influencers, and the brands working with them, need to ensure that all social media posts which advertise products or services are tagged with #ad?!

The key takeaway

The ASA’s ruling on Select Fashion is yet another reminder for both influencers and marketers to properly tag their social media posts with #ad. A brand can't simply rely on its contract with an influencer to absolve itself of responsibility and claim an omission is beyond its control – engagement is the key, ideally by marketing teams monitoring influencer activity to ensure that their influencers really understand what they need to do to comply with the rules on advertising disclosure.

The ad and the response

Influencers Mandi and Anna Vakili made two posts on their respective Instagram accounts, the first one featuring an image of Mandi and Anna sitting on a bed. Text caption underneath said: “It’s been a crazy year! But we have to focus on the positive moments, and me and Anna are over the moon about having a collection with @selectfashion…I’ve worked with them for a long time since Anna came from the island … Me and @annavakili_had so much fun working together and with @selectfashion team on this edit … Set your alarms for 7pm and head over to @selectfashion website or pop in store to check out our collection”. The second post yet again featured the sisters with the caption “Same but different @selectfashion” with a black heart emoji. A complaint was made alleging that the posts were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications and did not make clear their commercial intent.

The influencers responded by providing copies of their commercial agreements with Genus UK Ltd, trading as Select Fashion, which stipulated that the marketing posts were to be correctly tagged and identified as being part of a commercial arrangement. Select Fashion argued that the omission was beyond their control, and the influencers noted that the omission was an error, and this had been corrected, and the brands involved will be credited appropriately in future.

The decision

The ASA initially noted that the agreements required that all posts were to be properly tagged and that a representative from Select Fashion had to approve any posts before they are published, being able to request reshoots if needed. Select Fashion were also to be noted as a business partner and tagged in the caption.

In their view, these factors established that Select Fashion had enough control over the content of social media posts, in conjunction with a payment arrangement, for them to be considered marketing communications falling within the remit of the CAP Code. This meant that the posts had to be obviously identifiable as ads.

Although the first ad referred to the clothing collection with Select Fashion, the second ad showed the sisters wearing outfits from the collection, and that Select Fashion were indeed tagged in both posts, this was insufficient to ensure the posts were obviously identifiable as ads. Further identifiers were needed to be placed upfront, such as #ad, making it clear to viewers that the posts were ads. Because of this, the ASA considered that the posts breached CAP Code rules 2.1 and 2.3.

Why is this important?

The ruling reminds both influencers and marketers that advertising posts must be labelled appropriately as ads, and that a simple omission will not excuse any non-compliant posts from ASA action.

Any practical tips?

It’s simple – ensure your influencers always use #ad in all their advertising posts on social media. One simple step could be to ask your marketing team to sign up to the relevant social media accounts and actively monitor the posts – and if the team sees omissions from an ad disclosure perspective, asking the influencer to remedy immediately.