If you use influencers to market your brand, you need to know about a key change to the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics (in force from 1 March 2017).
What’s the change?
A new clause 2.7 has been added to the Code which states: Advertising or Marketing Communication must be clearly distinguishable as such to the relevant audience.
The new clause is designed to ensure the average consumer can readily distinguish between editorial content and advertising.
This isn’t trailblazing – the UK and US already have similar guidelines. The AANA has simply brought the Australian market (largely) into line with its overseas counterparts.
The new requirement is platform/media neutral, and there are some exceptions – such as product placement in TV shows.
What does it mean for influencers?
If a brand uses an influencer, then the commercial nature of the arrangement must be disclosed.
This means if a brand compensates an influencer (eg via payment, free product, etc), and has some degree of control over content or posts created by the influencer, then the influencer must disclose that it has been sponsored by the brand.
However, if a brand simply gives an influencer freebies, and the influencer can post whatever they like.
In this case the guidelines likely won’t apply because the brand won’t have a ‘reasonable degree of control’ over the marketing content subsequently created.
What do I need to do?
The AANA’s Clearly Distinguishable Advertising Best Practice Guideline includes a number of scenarios to help brands determine what they need to do.
The upshot is quite simple – make sure your advertising is clearly distinguishable from editorial content. You don’t have to say “this is an ad”, but the distinction must be clear. And get some advice if you’re not sure.
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David Kelly is the founder of KHQ Approved, which offers fixed fee solutions across a range of areas (including marketing law and contract review). Peace of mind from an experienced team for a reasonable price.