Social media posts by the influencer OH Fitness featured her either wearing the brand’s clothing or discussing their products with the following content:
A photograph of OH Fitness in a gym wearing MyProtein clothing.
A photograph of OH Fitness leaning against a wall wearing MyProtein clothing.
A photograph of OH Fitness out walking. The influencer had included tags to identify the clothing as MyProtein.
The complainants noted that OH Fitness was a sponsored athlete for the advertisers’ MyProtein brand. As the influencer had not declared that she was a sponsored athlete in the posts where she was wearing the clothing, they considered that the posts were in breach of the Code.
The influencer stated that the clothes she was wearing in the posts were free product from the brand and that there was no reference or allusion to the brand in the text of the posts.
She advised that she was a sponsored athlete and gave details of the contract. As part of her contract she was to post 4 times every month for the brand, tag them in the post and explain why she liked their products.
In response to advice from the ASAI Executive that a brand ambassador/sponsored athlete must indicate in all posts where the brand was featured or mentioned, irrespective of whether that post was part of a contractual arrangement or not, that they were a brand ambassador, the influencer stated that a requirement to include a hashtag in all posts that featured the advertisers’ products would be a problem for her as she wore their clothing every day. She advised that she was always 100% clear when a post was a marketing communication. If she was required to include a hashtag she would have to have text on all her clothing in every video or else stop posting as she considered having #ad when she was chatting to screen or showing a workout would take from the natural posting that she does.
The influencer stated that her understanding was that a post was a marketing communication when there was payment and control. As there was no control from the advertisers on the posts in question, then they were not advertising.
The advertisers confirmed that they had a contractual arrangement in place with the influencer and that she was one of their brand ambassadors. They provided the Executive with a copy of the contract. They stated that the posts objected to were not a part of that arrangement.
In response to advice from the ASAI Executive that a brand ambassador/sponsored athlete must indicate in all posts where the brand was featured or mentioned, irrespective of whether that post was part of a contractual arrangement or not, that they are a brand ambassador, the advertisers offered to amend their contracts with all their ambassadors in order to ensure that influencers include an appropriate hashtag to clearly indicate that they are a sponsored athlete/brand ambassador
The advertisers stated that they had discussed the matter at length with the influencer in this case and that she had agreed to comply with the requirement to include the hashtag sponsoredathlete or hashtag brandambassador in all brand posts, regardless of whether the posts were strictly advertisements. They said that going forward they would use all reasonable endeavours to monitor compliance with the assurances provided to them.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and both the influencers’ and the advertisers’ responses. The Committee welcomed the undertaking from the advertisers to include a requirement in their contracts to ensure clarity on posts by brand ambassadors going forward.
The Committee considered that where an influencer was sponsored by a brand, any content that contained or referenced the brand, should be tagged appropriately, for example, by #sponsoredathlete, #brandambassador or similar, when wearing the advertisers’ clothing, discussing their products or featuring an image of their products. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the posts were in breach of Sections 3.31 and 3.32 of the Code.
The posts must not reappear in their current form.
The Committee noted that the advertisers were amending their contracts with ambassadors to include a requirement that influencers must include a relevant hashtag when any of their product is featured or discussed in their social media content.
The Committee also noted that the influencer in this case had indicated to the advertisers that she would be conforming with the requirement going forward.