The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has named and shamed former Love Island contestants Eve Gale, Jess Gale, Belle Hassan, Francesca Allen and Anna Vakili for failing to disclose brand partnerships and ads in their social media posts and misleading followers.
This series, which hit a high of 3.2 million TV viewers during the finale earlier this week, has proven a springboard into influencing for many former contestants, but is frequently the subject of ASA concerns regarding disclosure.
One episode this year attracted more than 25,000 Ofcom complaints, showing how engaged audiences are.
The ASA, which has started naming and shaming frequent offenders (theoretically impacting their income), says the five influencers will remain on its watchlist for three months and will undergo spot checks indefinitely to ensure compliance. Chloe Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh are influencers previously added to the list set up in June.
All have been contacted by the ASA before being added to the watchlist. They either failed to provide an assurance they would include clear and upfront ad labels in their ads, “or subsequently reneged on it”.
Research in 2019 from Takumi found that more than half of followers on former Love Island contestants’ social media accounts were fake, bringing into question the true value of any collaboration with such influencers.
The ASA said that former Love Island contestants need to treat followers “fairly” with disclosure. It said: “The ad rules are clear: it must be obvious to consumers before they read, ‘like’ or otherwise interact with a social media post if what they are engaging with is advertising.”
The disclosure was least common in Reels and Instagram Stories, where it claims rules were only followed an average of 35% of the time. To sort this issue out, the organization has created a social ‘cheat sheet’ with ITV to ensure compliance.
It says it will be looking to take action against brands that repeatedly fail to disclose ads or do not provide assurances that they will properly label ads.
Shahriar Coupal, director of advertising policy and practice at the ASA, said: “We prefer to work with influencers and brands to help them stick to the rules but the latest cohort to be added to our wall have repeatedly failed to be upfront and clear when their social media posts are ads. Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse, particularly given we created dedicated guidance for Love Island contestants and we’ve given them every opportunity to get their houses in order.
“It’s not difficult: disclose when your content is an ad. If these influencers fail to do better, we won’t hesitate to consider further sanctions.”
ITV also uses the former contestants as influencers – with many of the looks now shoppable via TV.