The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an Instagram story from Louise Thompson – one of the stars of Channel 4 reality show Made In Chelsea – for the second time this year after she did not make it clear that the post was an ad.
Thompson was reprimanded by the ASA earlier this year for not marking a sponsored Instagram post for watch brand Daniel Wellington with #ad or #spon. Her second warning comes amid intense scrutiny over the way influencer posts are labeled online.
Thompson’s Instagram Story, published in May, featured a video of her using a facial brush product. The post was captioned: ‘Obsessed with my glowspin! Swipe up for $100 off using my code ‘louiseglow’. Swipe up awesome @vanityplanetstore.’
Thompson was contracted by beauty brand Vanity Planet through an agency, though she suggested that she had not been required to include #ad or any other qualifier to the story because she had not signed a written formal contract in relation to the post.
Thompson claimed that she was unaware of the need to include #ad on the Story, since her followers would have been aware that she had been paid from the context of the post.
The ASA pointed out that, despite the invitation for users to ‘swipe up’ and receive a discount, it was not obvious whether the post was independent editorial content, sponsored editorial content or advertising.
Vanity Planet has said that it was not its intention to violate the Advertising Code and that it had reworded its contracts for UK influencers accordingly. Thompson apologised to the watchdog and said that she would “ensure that in future Instagram Stories were appropriately labelled.”
The ASA said: “We welcome the assurances we received from both parties that they will ensure that future advertising posts on Instagram stories were properly labelled.”
In August, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into influencer marketing. The CMA is examining the problem of social media influencers not disclosing brand deals and sponsorships, and is concerned that such secrecy could break consumer protection law.
George Lusty, the CMA’s senior director for consumer protection, said: “It’s really important followers are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”
Guy Parker, the ASA's chief executive has previously said that people shouldn’t "have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to."
The regulator is currently running a review into online advertising and how it's signposted.