Love Island influencer stung by ad watchdog for failing to label sponsored content

The ruling comes amid a crackdown on the opaque nature of influencer ads on the likes of Instagram and YouTube / Instagram

Former Love Island contestant Olivia Buckland has joined Made In Chelsea Instagrammers Millie Makintosh and Louise Thompson in having a post banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for failing to signpost it as sponsored content.

The ruling follows on from the ASA launching a guide for influencers, which reminds them to use hashtags like #ad in order to make promotions clear to their audiences.

The Instagram video at the centre of this ASA ruling showed Buckland discussing the eye shadow from cosmetic brand W7 along with a caption which included the words: 'Can't wait to see what you guys create #BucksBeauty'.

One member of the public challenged whether the post was obviously identifiable as an ad and the regulator agreed that it was not.

W7 owner Warpaint argued that Buckland was not paid specifically to post on social media about its products said it didn't specify or instruct her in regards to her social media content. The Instagram video, it said, was a separate "blog style post" to any agreement that Buckland had as an ambassador.

Warpaint stated that it believed that Buckland’s professional relationship with W7 was "sufficiently obvious" but conceded it was willing to make changes to the hashtags on any similar posts in future.

The ASA said it understood there was a financial agreement in place between W7 and Buckland for her role as 'ambassador’ for W7.

"While the written contractual agreement did not make specific stipulations about the content published by Buckland on her social media profiles, the contract required Buckland to promote the brand and the products in a positive light at all times.

"Because that would in effect restrict aspects of Ms Buckland’s control of her social media content, we considered that W7 had sufficient control over the content for the Instagram post in question to be considered a marketing communication. The post, therefore, fell within the remit of the CAP Code," it explained.

The regulator banned the ad and warned the brand to ensure that "ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications" in future.

The ruling comes amid a crackdown on the opaque nature of influencer ads on the likes of Instagram and YouTube.

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."

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