A post on the company’s Instagram account featured an image of a woman’s face with a yellow lightning bolt drawn across the eye in makeup. The description tagged the original poster and stated:
“It’s the [lightning bolt emoji] emoji!
Crayola Colour Crayon Trio (1501691)”
Four additional posts showed different images of hands wearing nail polish in various styles and featured the below captions respectively:
“Nail art is cute and all, but sometimes a glossy, one-colour mani is all you need
Revolution nail polish in Bubblegum (1697649)”
“Nothing beats a classic red nail
Essie nail polish in Russian Roulette (1280987)”
“Earth tones [handshake emoji] cow print
Sally Hansen nail polish in Raw Cocoa (1670844)”
“To recreate this look:
Paint a base colour
Paint curved lines on your tips
Clean the messy excess off your cuticles with a cotton bud
Add a top coat!
Search 'Essie' on ASOS”
The complainant considered the posts to be misleading as they implied specific ASOS products had been used to create the looks featured, however, the original posts showed that the actual products used were not those tagged by the brand. The complainant therefore believed that customers may purchase products from ASOS expecting similar results to those featured in the posts.
The advertisers said that the posts mentioned by the complainant were created using ‘user generated content’ (UGC), i.e. content created by third parties who had given ASOS permission for reuse on their social media channels.
They said that their usual process for UGC was to reach out to the third party in question, request permission to use the content and confirm the products used in the images correlate to products sold on ASOS.com. They explained that, when reposted by ASOS on @asos_faceandbody, the relevant products are referenced in the caption, including the product code to enable customers to easily locate the product in question on their website.
Unfortunately, they said, during the COVID19 crisis different members of the team had been requesting permission from third parties in order for ASOS to reuse UGC, and their standard process had not been thoroughly followed which resulted in certain UGC posts on @asos_faceandbody being credited with the incorrect product information.
The advertisers said that they had taken this opportunity to refresh the team involved regarding the correct process for seeking UGC consent and cross-checking the products used in the image with products available on ASOS. They confirmed that they had also amended the captions for the posts in question to read “Shop Similar”, in order to be clear that the product used in the post may not be the exact same product available to purchase on ASOS.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
They acknowledged that the issue was the result of an error and they welcomed the amendments made by the advertisers. They considered, however, that the posts were misleading at the time of publication.
In the circumstances, the Committee considered the advertisements to be in breach of Code sections 4.1 and 4.4.
Action Required: As the advertising had already been amended, no further action was required.