[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


No “Sponsored” tag? ASB says Instagram post “is an ad”

The Ad Standards Board (ASB) ruled a post by actor Kat Risteska was an ad, despite not including a “sponsored” (or other identifying) hashtag.

What happened?

Eco Tan sent Risteska samples of its body care products, and asked her to post a review on Instagram.

Risteska gushed about Eco Tan’s moisturiser on Instagram, and included in her post a link to the brand’s page and #ecotan.

But he didn’t include a tag identifying the post as an ad, leading an Instagram user to complain that the post breached the AANA Code of Ethics.

Was it an “ad”?

The Code was updated earlier this year to require advertising and marketing communications be clearly distinguished as such, and that commercial arrangements between a brand and influencer be disclosed by use of tags like “sponsored”.

However, if a post doesn’t fall within the definition of “advertising and marketing communications”, the requirement doesn’t apply.

Eco Tan argued:

  • it didn’t compensate Risteska other than providing free product, and had no input on her post. Therefore the post didn’t meet the definition of “advertising and marketing communication”.; and
  • even if the post was an ad, the inclusion of #ecotan and link to its Instagram page clearly distinguished the post as advertising.

The outcome

The ASB ruled that providing free product constituted “payment”, and in asking Risteska to post (and sharing the post on its own Instagram page) Eco Tan exercised a form of control, rendering the post an ad.

However, the ASB also found the post read more like a press release than Risteska’s own views and this together with the inclusion of the #ecotan hashtag meant the post was, in its view, clearly distinguishable as advertising.

Therefore the complaint was dismissed – a sensible outcome.

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.

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