Britvic falls foul of celebrity social media ad rules

Britvic has been told it must no longer run a series of ads in partnership with former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh after the soft drinks company failed to identify them as such.

The owner of Robinsons and 7up paired with Mackintosh for an Instagram video which appeared on her Instagram account. The ad promoted the juice line J2O and showed an image of her with the caption “80s VOGUEING X YOGA”, followed by a video with several similar scenes, and concluded with a scene that included the text “J2O SPRITZ #BlendRecommends”.

Below the video text stated “80s vogeuing [sic] x yoga @Houseofvoga. More of my #BlendRecommends with @drinkj2o Spritz to come! #sp".

Britvic argued that the ads were identifiable as a marketing communication and pointed to the end frame which was branded and included the product name, as well as the campaign hashtag “#BlendRecommends”.

The company added it had also ensured it was agreed that “#sp” would be included with each of the posts in order to make "as clear as possible" to consumers they were watching an ad.

However the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said while the branded shot "clearly contributed" to the ad being identifiable, it was not sufficient to ensure that was obvious, because it appeared at the end of the video.

The watchdog added that it was unlikely to be immediately apparent to consumers what the hashtag “#sp” was intended to refer to.

"While we understood that “#sp” was intended to communicate that the material was a ‘sponsored post’, sponsored content was a category distinct from that over which an advertiser retained editorial control," read the ruling. "We therefore considered it was not a sufficiently accurate label for the ad, even if the meaning had been immediately apparent to consumers."

The ad must not appear again in its current form and the ASA told Britvic to ensure future ads were obviously identifiable as such and they made their commercial intent clear prior to engagement.

The ASA has ramped up its vigilance when it comes to sponsored content on social media and last year introduced a strict set of guidelines for brands and YouTube content creators wishing to work together.

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