IAB and ISBA reinforce brands must clearly label branded content as advertising, following Mondelez’s Oreo native ad ban

Advertising trade bodies ISBA and the IAB have warned brands to be respectful of their consumers and clearly label paid-for vlogger content as advertising, following Mondelez’s Oreo native ad being banned on YouTube.

The FMCG giant has had five ad slots for its Oreo biscuit brand banned by the ASA after a BBC journalist flagged that it was not clearly identified as marketing communications.

The ads featured popular vloggers inluding Dan and Phil and Tom Ridgewell and showed the YouTube creators taking part in an 'Oreo lick race'.

ISBA’s director of Public Affairs Ian Twinn welcomed the ASA ruling, adding that vloggers “have to obey the rules" and that consumers “deserve respect”.

He added: “There are of course a lot of Vloggers that adhere to the rules and are transparent about their content, but not everyone is equally savvy. In the UK the rules are clear: in a tweet include #ad, and for Facebook or YouTube just say it's an advert. It might even help Vloggers get more work! Brands want to respect their consumers and protect their brand value.”

The IAB, which is in the midst of drawing up more evolved guidelines around native advertising, released guidance for paid promotions in social media alongside ISBA in 2011.

Alex Stepney, public policy manager at the IAB said: “Being up front with the consumer, by making it very clear right from the start that a communication has been paid for and is in editorial control of the marketer is crucial. Not only is the need for disclosure covered by the ASA, but it is also the law.

“The issue for industry has been ‘how do we provide meaningful disclosure?’. To address that question we produced guidance for paid promotions in social media alongside ISBA in 2011, and it is why we continue to work with our members to help the industry to comply with the rules as ad formats and marketing communications evolve and emerge."

Mondelez UK defended the ads and said it was not its intention to mislead consumers. The FMCG giant stated that the vloggers had been paid to provide ads for Oreo and provided with the product for use in the video.

It added that each vlogger referenced the fact they had worked with Oreo, and that the vloggers made reference to others who had produced Lick Race videos for viewers to review. In addition the company added it thought the inclusion of the acknowledgement at the end of the content did not render it unidentifiable as an ad.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) disagreed and pointed out that the presentation of each ad was "very much in keeping" with the editorial content of each vlogger's YouTube channels and as a consequence it would not be immediately clear they were marketing communications from the style alone.