P&G lands in trouble with ASA after consumers unaware it owned YouTube beauty channel

The world's biggest advertiser Proctor & Gamble has landed in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it came to light consumers were unaware the Beauty Recommended YouTube channel was owned by the FMCG giant.

The watchdog received a complaint from a beauty and style blogger who, knowing that P&G owned the channel, raised concerns after viewing a video she felt was not obviously identifiable as an advert.

The video in question, entitled Easy Lip Makeup Tutorials for Winter Time, showed a vlogger talking about and using a number of P&G's Max Factor products, as well as products from other brands.

At the beginning of the video text appeared which stated "Sponsored by Beauty Recommended, brought to you by Procter & Gamble" while the video description listed all six Max Factor products featured and included a link to buy the products via an online shop.

P&G said its approach "ensured that a viewer was aware that the vlog was sponsored" before they engaged with the material. Further, it believed that Beauty Recommended was seen by many viewers as a brand in its own right and so consumers "would clearly understand" that the videos were of a commercial nature.

However the ASA said that consumers would not necessarily be aware that the brand was owned and controlled by P&G just for being clearly linked to one of its brands. The watchdog pointed out that channel page gave no indication that the content was created by Procter & Gamble and that the channel title, and individual video titles, did not include any text to explain the commercial nature of the content.

The ASA concluded that the videos in the YouTube channel were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications and warned P&G to ensure that future ads in the medium made commercial intent clear prior to consumer engagement.

The ruling follows a ban on Mondelez's Oreo YouTube ad series last November after a BBC journalist complained to the ASA that the advert, which featured a number of popular bloggers, wasn't clearly labelled as native content.

Speaking to The Drum at the time Google's head of YouTube brand propositions Derek Scobie, said that the responsibility of clearly labelling branded content lies with the brands and creators who post the videos.

Advertising trade bodies ISBA and the IAB also waded in on the controversy and warned brands to be respectful of their consumers and clearly label paid-for vlogger content as advertising.

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