Social media stars including Jodie Marsh and five ex-Love Islanders including Francesca Allen are to be subjected to a name and shame Instagram campaign by the UK’s advertising watchdog for continuing to flout social media marketing rules.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which issued a final warning to 122 UK-based Instagram influencers over repeatedly failing to tell followers when they were paid to promote products in posts, has resorted to using the social media platform to highlight their behaviour to users.
The ASA has created personalised ads that name the social influencers – Marsh, Allen, twins Jess and Eve Gale, Belle Hassan and Anna Vakili – stating that they have been sanctioned for not declaring paid posts to followers and pointing to a webpage listing all of those who “break these rules”.
On Tuesday, Love Island winner Amber Rose Gill was added to the ASA’s non-compliance webpage, although she is not part of the targeted Instagram ad campaign.
“For the minority of influencers that repeatedly fail to disclose their paid-for posts, it’s important their social media followers are told,” said Shahriar Coupal, director of advertising policy and practice at the ASA. “In a new front of enforcement activity, we’re using targeted ads to highlight the breaches of six social media personalities to the very same audience they are seeking to influence.”
The ASA, which is running the targeted campaign for an initial two weeks to assess whether the ads have an impact on the behaviour of the influencers, has not ruled out further potential sanctions.
“When we see the necessary changes to their disclosure practices, we’ll call off the ads,” said Coupal. “But, where non-compliance persists, we’ll look to more direct forms of enforcement.”
Social media influencers who continue to break the non-disclosure rules could be referred to Trading Standards or the Competition and Markets Authority, which has the ability to impose fines. The watchdog has also previously said it could also work with social media companies “to have their content removed”.
Under the UK advertising code, promotional posts must clearly indicate they are paid-for endorsements, typically using the hashtag #ad, short for advertising.
In 2019, the CMA secured formal commitments from 16 celebrities, including Alexa Chung and Ellie Goulding, to clearly state if they have been paid or receive any gifts when publishing posts on Instagram.