Instagram influencer Sophie Hinchliffe is alleged to have endorsed a range of Procter & Gamble homecare products on her popular Instagram feed, without informing her 2.5m followers they were paid promotions.
Hinchliffe fell foul of an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) crackdown on brand ambassadors neglecting to disclose paid advertising on their social media accounts.
Hinchcliffe has built a sizeable audience by dispensing cleaning tips to followers, enabling her to command thousands of pounds in fees in return for putting her name to specific products and brands.
But she has appeared to have violated strict rules surrounding social media advertisements but not announcing several partnerships with P&G brands. Three complaints were lodged in April around unlabeled promotions for the consumer giants Febreze and Flash cleaning agents
The ASA rules mandate that all brand ambassadors must disclose when they have benefitted directly from the promotion, review or discussion of products using their social media accounts.
In a statement, Hinchcliffe said: “I take the responsibility that comes with having a large social media following very seriously, and, for me, being authentic and transparent is incredibly important. I’m fortunate that brands want to work with me, but I only collaborate with those that I genuinely like and would recommend to people.
“I continue to learn a lot, but feel my community is clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership, and that which isn’t. In fact, I’m overly cautious when it comes to these guidelines and will continue to be.”
One way Instagram is cleaning up the ecosystem is in introducing a tool allowing advertisers to pay for influencer posts to appear as ads even in the feeds of non-followers, as 'branded content'.
Last month the ASA announced that online ad complaints now outstrip TV complaints 3-1.