The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published the first extensive redraft of the influencer guidelines since 2020. This is written for influencers, but as the ASA notes, the guidance is essential for brands and agencies.
The new 20-page document explains the rules for influencers on disclosing adverts, as well as the ramifications of not clearly labelling sponsored content. The key point? Advertising must be obvious and clear.
It is important to remember that not only sponsored posts need to be marked as advertising. Content featuring gifted products, affiliate links, influencer-owned brands, press trips and free services must also be clearly marked. This includes if an influencer is an employee, owner, shareholder, director or has a commercial or personal interest in a company. Recently, both presenter Laura Whitmore and beauty creator Erim Kaur have been named in ASA rulings for failing to disclose their affiliation with their own brands. Under ASA regulations, promoting a family or friend’s brand must also be disclosed as advertising.
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What labels should creators be using to mark sponsored content? The ASA only recognises the terms ad, advert, advertising, advertisement and advertisement feature as clear signposting of commercial content.
Creators who fail to clearly disclose commercial content can face a number of consequences. This includes being added to the non-compliant social media influencer page for three months before reconsideration or further sanctions. If creators ignore the guidelines repeatedly, consumers will be alerted via targeted advertising, social media content may be removed and creators may face formal action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or Trading Standard Services. It is worth noting brands can also be added to the non-compliant online advertisers page.
In addition to marking content as advertising, influencers must ensure claims about products are evidence-based and be mindful of their audience demographics when advertising age-restricted items such as alcohol, promoting items that are subject to additional rules (food and supplements), hosting giveaways and advertising to children.
By Abby Oldroyd, Caroline Edwards and Dina Zubi.
CORQ ASA GUIDELINES TRAINING
Worried about the new rules for influencer commercial signposting? Tune in to CORQ’s ASA guidelines webinar on March 30th in which our CEO and founder, Sara McCorquodale, will break everything down and ensure you know exactly how the guidelines impact you. Register here.