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Advertiser: Just Jordan, Universal Pictures International Ireland
Medium: Social Media (Snapchat)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.17, 3.20
Snaps on the Just Jordan Snapchat account featured the blogger at a movie release event for “Fast and Furious 8”, a film promoted by Universal Pictures. The blogger was featured with snaps from the movie and promotional signage.
The complainant said that not all snaps had featured the relevant hashtags, #SP, #Ad or similar, advising that they were marketing communications. She noted that snaps on one evening had included the hashtags, however, some of the snaps from the next day had not included the hashtags. As the hashtags had not appeared on all snaps the complainant considered that they were not clearly identifiable as marketing communications and were therefore in breach of the Code.
Just Jordan replied stating that the hashtag Ad had been visible and could not have been missed. In regards to the publication of snaps with the hashtags on the evening in question she said the posts had been declared as paid for collaboration. She said that in order for a person to have been able to view the snaps that appeared the next day, they would have had to firstly have seen the initial snap from the evening before which had included the hashtag.
Finally she said that all her posts on Facebook and Instagram that had coincided with the snaps had included #Ad.
Universal Pictures International said they took their advertising responsibilities very seriously and take all steps available to them to ensure that their advertising is presented in such a way that it is clear that it is a marketing communication.
They explained that the Snapchat application was not like traditional broadcast or non-broadcast methods. Snaps “auto delete” seconds after they are viewed by the recipient or, if posted on a user’s story, they are available for a maximum of 24 hours only. Photos and videos have limited capacity with the video ‘snap’ format limited to a capacity of around 10 seconds. They said that while it was possible to buy advertising space directly with Snapchat that has more generous time limitations, this was not the type of advertising in question in this case.
Universal Pictures said that they had worked very closely with Ms. Jordan to advertise the film. The brief had been clear in stating that the location had to be identified and #ad or #spon had to be used on snaps relating to the event which in this instance, was participation in a film branded Greenscreen .
They said that Ms. Jordan had used the #ad on social media in compliance with their request. They said, however, that, given the nature of Snapchat together with the fact that the activity took longer than 10 seconds, posting any content involved a series of concurrent snaps. The practical implication of this meant that it was not feasible to place #ad or #spon on each individual snap as the time taken to do this would disrupt the flow of activity, alongside the fact that that it was not possible for them to pause a Greenscreen(1). They said when Ms. Jordan’s commercial obligation to them had finished; she chose, independently, to post snaps of herself while at the event. They said the subsequent snaps had not been paid for by them.
They said that Ms. Jordan had used the #ad on social media in compliance with their request. They said, however, that, given the nature of Snapchat together with the fact that the activity took longer than 10 seconds, posting any content involved a series of concurrent snaps. The practical implication of this meant that it was not feasible to place #ad or #spon on each individual snap as the time taken to do this would disrupt the flow of activity, alongside the fact that that it was not possible for them to pause a Greenscreen. They said when Ms. Jordan’s commercial obligation to them had finished; she chose, independently, to post snaps of herself while at the event. They said the subsequent snaps had not been paid for by them.
(1) The technique of photographing or filming an actor or object against a green monochrome backdrop, and replacing the backdrop with material from a different image using a colour filter.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the responses received from both the blogger and Universal Pictures. The Committee considered that as the investigation had commenced prior to their release of a statement in a similar case (27707) in relation to a different blogger, it was more appropriate and fair to deal with this matter by way of a statement also.
The Committee noted the blogger’s comment that she had included the relevant hashtag at the beginning of the promotion on the evening before the follow-up series of snaps had appeared and that viewers would not have been able to view the follow-up snaps without seeing the first one. They also noted the comments from Universal Pictures that including the relevant hashtag on each snap would have not only interfered with the flow of the activity, it was also not possible to pause a Greenscreen.
The Committee were aware that Snaps were only available to view for 24 hours, therefore, there would have been a period of time when the first snap, which had included the relevant hashtag, would no longer be available to view but the follow-up snaps, without the relevant hashtags, would be available to view. In these circumstances the Committee were concerned that the subsequent snaps had the potential to mislead consumers.
The Committee noted that the blogger has chosen to independently post snaps outside of her contractual obligations. As these were not re-publication of the original snaps, the Committee did not consider them to be marketing communications. They were therefore outside the remit of the Code.
The Complaints Committee requested that all influencers and advertisers using expiring media ensure that all snaps that are part of a marketing communication include the relevant hashtag to identify that they are advertising, particularly in view of the life-span of any posts and the timeframe involved when consumers may view them. They also reminded them of the importance of marketing communications being easily identifiable as such.