Print This Post
Product: Stimulant Drink
Advertiser: Red Bull GmbH
Medium: Social Media (Blogger's Own Page)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.31, 3.32, 4.1, 4.4
The complainant considered the posts to be misleading as the sponsored athlete did not state that he was being paid to endorse the Red Bull brand.
The advertisers said that athlete was a Red Bull Athlete and that this fact was highlighted on his Instagram bio section and on the Red Bull website. They said that he had worked with Red Bull for some time and that this had been published both in mainstream media and online. They said that all Red Bull Athletes were expected to create and post on their social channels independently throughout the year and advised that the posts in question were not curated by the brand. They also said that anyone who followed their sponsored athlete on Instagram would have seen the announcement that he made when he first partnered with Red Bull.
They said that, in relation to the first post, while it did include a can of Red Bull within the overall image, the sponsored athlete used Red Bull along with many other products as part of his everyday training regime like many athletes do. They said that the can of Red Bull in the image was extremely difficult to make out given its size and placement and that there was no reference to the Red Bull name within the accompanying text. They said that the text reference ‘big gains in explosive power this year’ was in relation to his own running performance and improvements.
Regarding the second post they said that, again, while it did include a can of Red Bull within the overall image, the sponsored athlete used Red Bull as part of his everyday training regime and that, with his link to the brand for the past number of years and his consumption of the product on a regular basis as part of his training, it was part of the fitness occasion and his repertoire which his followers would be aware of.
The sponsored athlete’s agent confirmed that he was a sponsored Red Bull Athlete, which they said was indicated on his Instagram profile. They also confirmed that he had a contractual agreement with the brand but said that he did not receive specific payment for the posts referenced, that he had created the content himself and that he was not influenced by the brand in the copy generated.
They explained that, as an elite international athlete, he used Red Bull to support his training and competition programme, as caffeine has been shown to be of benefit for high-intensity training and power sports. They said that, as he used the product in question as part of training, this was reflected in his social media content.
They advised that he would be using ‘#ad’ or ‘#sp’ on all posts relating to his sponsors moving forward in order to ensure there was no ambiguity.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the responses from the advertisers and the sponsored athlete’s agents. They noted the commercial relationship between the two was indicated in the sponsored athlete’s Instagram profile bio. They welcomed the commitment to ensure all future posts were disclosed appropriately.
The Committee noted that the posts featuring the product had been created as part of the commercial relationship but without the advertisers’ involvement. They considered, however, that where an individual was sponsored by a brand any content that contained or referenced the brand in any way should include an appropriate disclosure.
The Committee considered that the advertisements as they appeared at the time of publication lacked proper disclosure. In the circumstances, the Complaints Committee considered the advertisements to be in breach of Code sections 3.31 and 3.32.
The advertisements must not appear again in the same format.