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Advertiser: K18 Hair
Influencer: Pippa O'Connor
Medium: Internet (Social Media)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.5
The advertisement promoted the K18 hair mask, a leave-in hair treatment designed to clinically reverse hair damage. The advertisement posted by the influencer to Instagram depicted two images of her hair from behind with the captions “before” and “after”. A video of the influencers’ hair and a photo of the advertised product also featured. The accompanying caption to the post wrote:
“Who doesn’t love some before & after pics! I’m so happy with the condition of my hair since last year. I can honestly see and feel a massive difference...especially in its strength. It’s totally fuss free and easy to use at home. It’s available online www.k18hair.ie @k18hair_Ireland @K18hair”.
Six complaints were received regarding the advertisement. The issues raised were:
The complainants considered that the post was misleading due to the influencer not having disclosed the use of hair extensions in the post’s description. The complainants noted that the use of hair extensions had only been disclosed when the influencer had replied to a question in the comments section stating that she had hair extensions in both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ image.
Some complainants considered that the ‘after’ image used in the advertising was misleading as it had made use of hair styling and a brightening filter to enhance the hair’s appearance, thereby exaggerating the product’s efficacy. One complainant considered that the ‘after’ picture portrayed a fuller hair style which they considered was because of further hair extensions being applied. The complainants also considered that in order to show the true effect of the product, it should have been used on hair without the use of hair extensions.
Two complainants considered that the post was misleading as they said that there was no indication of the post being advertising material.
The advertisers stated that in the comment section of the post the influencer had said that they used hair extensions in both the before and after photos.
They influencers’ agency also stated that it was widely known that the influencer used hair extensions as they made reference to them regularly and stated they were present in both the before and after photos in the comment section. Considering this, they did not consider it to be a relevant necessity to specifically reference the extensions in the advertising material as the influencer did not try to pretend she did not have them.
They advertisers stated that hair extensions did not help or hinder the effectiveness of the advertised products, that the product improved the quality of hair with or without extensions and that improvement was best illustrated by styling the hair.
The advertisers stated that the post in question was clearly identified as a paid partnership between the influencer and the brand. To demonstrate this, the advertisers included a weblink and screenshot of the post with the text “Paid Partnership” above the images.
The influencer’s agency also stated that each of the posts related to the advertising were tagged as a paid partnership at the top of the screen, the agent provided evidence to the ASAI to support this.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers and agency responses.
Issue 1: - Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the nature of the product being advertised and that while reference had been made to the use of hair extensions in the comments sections after a query from a follower, no mention had been made that the influencer was using hair extensions in the advertising post. They considered that in the absence of this disclosure, the advertisement had the potential to mislead and exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers by both ambiguity and omission and was therefore in breach of Code Sections
4.1 and 4.4.
Issue 2 - Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted the difference depicted in the influencers’ hair between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ imagery and that the hair had been styled in the ‘after’ image. While noting the response that the product improved the quality of the hair with or without extensions, the Complaints Committee considered that the styling of the hair in the ‘after’ photo had the potential to mislead consumers by exaggerating the products efficacy on the hair. In the light of this, the Committee considered the advertising to be in breach of Code Sections 4.1 and 4.4.
Issue 3 – Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted that the posts included the app tool to disclose advertising content i.e. that it was a “paid partnership” and was therefore not in breach of the Code.
The advertisement should not reappear in its current form.