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Advertiser: Laura’s Views, REN Skincare Ireland
Medium: Online - Social Media
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.31, 3.32, 4.1, 4.4
A ten-minute video was posted on the blogger’s YouTube channel in November 2018 titled:
“How I Got My Skin GOOD! [Laura’s Views]”
The video began with the blogger describing the ethos of the brand and discussing the positive impact the products had on her skin. She then reviewed various skincare products from the brand’s range, as well as a small number of products from other brands, during the course of describing her skincare routine. At 8:35 minutes she announced that she had taken up the role of Brand Ambassador with the brand. She advised viewers about an upcoming sale the brand was holding and directed them to the description box for details. The description read:
“Alright, here's the inside scoop... For just TWENTY FOUR HOURS from when this video goes live (4pm on 20th November 2018 GMT), the code LAURAVIP35 will get you a whopper discount on renskincare.ie. I'm literally off to stock up this very second).
Disclaimer: Occasionally I am very fortunate and companies send me their products to try out and possibly review. This absolutely does NOT influence my reviews of the products in question. I would not jeopardise my integrity for a free lipstick. No way. You can rest assured that all opinions are my own and 100% honest.”
The complainant considered it misleading that the blogger did not mention her status as Brand Ambassador until the end of the video.
The blogger said that she received a monthly payment from the brand in return for posts as and when she deemed appropriate. She said that the brand had never told her what to say or when to post, and she therefore hashtagged her posts relating to the brand ‘#BrandAmbassador’, as she felt that ‘#ad’/’#sp’ was not appropriate considering the brand took no control over her wording or content. She said that she earned no commission from links or discount codes provided and that, aside from the initial gifted products, she purchased all products herself. She pointed out that at 8:35 minutes in the video, she clearly explained her relationship with the brand.
The brand said that the sole purpose of the YouTube video was to introduce the blogger’s audience to her REN Skincare regime and announce her new position as official brand ambassador. They said they appreciated that ASAI did not consider this was made sufficiently clear and that they have taken on board the points that led to a formal investigation.
They said that at no point was it the brand’s intention to mislead or gloss over the fact that the blogger was receiving financial compensation for featuring their brand, which, they said, was evident in all posts and content created by her. They said they were very proud of how they worked with the blogger in question as it was totally organic in nature; that they had no input into the content she produced or what she said about a REN product, be it positive or negative. They said they would never knowingly seek to mislead anyone as they felt their products and brand could stand on their own merit without resorting to black hat tricks to confuse and mislead customers. They said that the relationship they had with the blogger was unique and rare and it was built on honest, trust and total transparency, so they were therefore concerned that any content associated with REN Skincare Ireland would be the subject of an ASAI investigation.
The brand also said that they felt looking at the video in isolation did not present a full picture of the campaign that was, in essence, the official announcement of the blogger as their Brand Ambassador. They said that, when reviewed in context, it was clear that she spoke at length on her Instagram Stories about a new video that was going live to announce her new Brand Ambassador role. They said these stories preceded the YouTube video and that a number of follow-up stories which were published after the video discussed in detail why the blogger had chosen to accept their Brand Ambassador proposal and why she championed the REN brand. They said that the video was published as part of a series of sequential social media posts that clearly demonstrated the blogger’s professional involvement with the REN brand, and that they felt she had always made it very clear that she was an official Brand Ambassador for them.
They said that they understood the ASAI was taking necessary steps to thoroughly investigate the matter but would ask that the context of the video and associated posts be considered in the course of adjudication. They said that they had reviewed how they worked with their Brand Ambassador and would ensure that situations such as this, which allowed for misinterpretation, would not happen again. They advised that the published video title had been amended to read: “How I Got My Skin GOOD! ANNOUNCEMENT OF MY REN BRAND AMBASSADOR ROLE!”, so that anyone who viewed the video out of the context it was originally published would be fully aware of the relationship between the influencer and the brand. They said they had also requested that a new video be produced to update viewers on the blogger’s journey with REN Skincare Ireland to date and that it lead with the fact she is a Brand Ambassador, the length of time she has officially worked with the brand and how she works with them prior to discussing the products.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ and blogger’s responses. They acknowledged the amendment that had been made and accepted that the purpose of the video in question was to announce the blogger’s appointment as Brand Ambassador, however, they considered this relationship should have been made clear from the beginning of the video at the time of publication. While they noted the brand’s comments in relation to the context of the wider social media campaign, they considered that, because a viewer could engage with the video in isolation, the commercial relationship should have been made clear on each relevant platform.
In the circumstances, the Committee considered the advertisement was in breach of Code sections 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 4.4.
As the advertisement had already been amended, no further action was required.