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Advertiser: Bongo Operations Pty
Medium: Internet (Social Media), Social Media (Blogger's Own Page)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 3.10, 3.31, 3.32
Three screenshots from the influencer’s account displayed the following message:
“Text LOVE to 57848 to find out if someone is secretly in love with you!
❤ #valentinesday #love #fyp #irish #ie #for you #single #xyzbca 16+3/
The complainant objected that the posts, which they considered were advertisements, did not include an appropriate # such as #ad to disclose that the posts were advertisements.
The advertisers welcomed the opportunity to provide relevant information about the AskBongo service operating in Ireland. They said the AskBongo service was organised by Global AQA Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Crowd Media Holdings Ltd., and that the service had been operating in Ireland since 2008 in accordance with all the relevant rules and regulations. They said that AskBongo was a question and answer entertainment service intended for young adults aged 16 and older. They said that this was the first such complaint received about the AskBongo service and they were committed to resolving it.
The advertisers said that Crowd Media had contracted the influencer in question for the promotion of the AskBongo service in TikTok and Instagram channels. They said this was a paid promotion and the influencer had signed their standard influencer agreement, including the acceptance of their General Terms and Conditions for promoting their services.
They said that upon publishing the service promotion on the TikTok channel, they had noticed the influencer had missed to include a paid partnership disclosure and they had contacted her several times to correct this. They said that due to the TikTok platform’s technical limitations, the platform did not allow editing videos once published and to make changes, the influencer would have needed to delete the published content. They said they had contacted the influencer on several occasions via Email, Phone and WhatsApp asking them to delete the content due to this omission but had not been successful in reaching her to this date.
The influencer failed to provide a response to the complaint.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They welcomed the advertisers’ commitment to ensuring full disclosure.
The Committee expressed concern at the influencers’ failure to respond to the complaint. They reminded them that there is an onus on influencers to ensure that their advertising is in conformity with the Code.
As the posts in question did not include an appropriate disclaimer to indicate to consumers that they were in fact advertisements, the Committee concluded that the advertisements were in breach of Code sections 3.31 and 3.32.
The advertisement must not appear in the current form again. The Complaints Committee reminded the parties involved to ensure that all marketing communications were clearly tagged or indicated as such to ensure that consumers were immediately aware that what they were viewing was advertising material.