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ASA dismisses complaints against Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand Snickers Tweets in first Twitter ruling


By The Drum Team | Editorial

March 7, 2012 | 2 min read

Complaints against Tweets sent by Rio Ferdinand and Katie Price have been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority, the first time the organisation has investigated complaints involved Twitter.

The ASA has ruled that tweets sent from Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and model Katie Price were not in breach of rules, despite receiving two complaints that their tweets, promoting Snickers, were not identified as adverts.

Both send five tweets, the first four of which were unusual, with Ferdinand discussing knitting and Price discussing macroeconomics. The fifth tweet sent by both contained the tag ‘snickersUK’ and the line "You're not you when you're hungry", the tag ‘spon’ indicating sponsorship from Mars, and a picture of them both opening a Snickers bar.

The ruling concluded; "We considered the combination of those elements was sufficient to make clear the tweets were advertising and that consumers would then understand each series of tweets was a marketing communication.”

Timothy Pinto, media and intellectual property lawyer at International law firm Taylor Wessing , explained:"This is an important decision as it shows that the ASA has adapted the traditional concept of 'marketing communications' to relatively new digital advertising media, such as Twitter. By not upholding the complaints, the ASA has taken a common sense, rather than a strict, approach to this Twitter celebrity marketing campaign. '

'The adjudication gives useful guidance to advertisers (and celebrities) on what they need to include in their 140 characters to make it clear that a Tweet is a marketing communication, in this case it was the reference to #spon, along with @snickersUK and a photo of the celebrity holding the Snickers bar," he added.

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