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ASA defines anyone with over 30,000 social media followers as a ‘celebrity’

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By John Glenday | Reporter

July 4, 2019 | 3 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has defined the social media following threshold one needs to pass to be defined as a ‘celebrity' for the purposes of enforcing advertising rules.

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Sarah Willox Knott, a parenting blogger

The bar is set at 30,000 social media followers with the legal precedent set by the case of Sarah Willox Knott, a parenting blogger, who promoted a sedative to her Instagram followers without in a declared advert. This circumvented strict laws banning celebrities and health professionals from promoting medication.

Knott’s undoing came in a February photograph uploaded to her ThisMamaLife Instagram account in which a packet of Phenergan Night Time Tablets was clearly visible in the background. It was captioned with a glowing endorsement of the ‘pharmacy only’ insomnia pill.

With a follower tally of 32,000, Knott sought to portray herself as an ordinary member of the public and thus exempt from the rules but the ASA felt otherwise.

In a statement, the body wrote: “We considered over 30,000 followers indicated that she had the attention of a significant number of people. Given that she was popular with, and had the attention of a large audience, we considered that ThisMamaLife was a celebrity for the purposes of the CAP Code.”

The case marks the first time an ‘influencer’ has fallen foul of the new stricter definition and follows in the wake of a spate of ‘influencer’ promotions materialising on popular social platforms, most recently evidenced in the case of Sophie Hinchliffe who was found to have broken the rules with a series of undeclared P&G posts.

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