#Ad: Why brands and celebrity influencers need to suppress their appetites for influencer marketing

December 2, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Sponsored posts by celebrity influencers (Katie Price, Lauren Goodger, Georgia Harrison) were recently banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for irresponsibly promoting dieting products.

What does this mean?

Sponsored weight-loss adverts were banned because the ASA felt that the influencers in question were pushing an irresponsible message: those at an already healthy weight, like themselves, needed to lose more weight by using these appetite-suppressing products. In addition, Goodger’s photo appeared to be edited to make her waist look “artificially thin” and “not representative of her real body shape”. It’s not just celebrities who need to be careful, the ASA banned several Instagram posts from the Instagram accounts of BoomBod and Protein Revolution. 

The recent ban on these adverts, a landmark case against a “Mumfluencer” and the release of a new Influencers’ Guide this year shows that regulatory bodies – ASA, Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – are catching up. 

What's the big picture effect?

Celebrity and social media influencers and brands now have no excuses for any failure to comply with consumer law. This July, ASA ruled that “Mumfluencer” Sarah Willox Knott (ThisMamaLife) was a celebrity as she had over 30,000 followers on her Instagram and therefore breached advertising rules regarding the promotion of medicine, in this case an over-the-counter sleep sedative. 

Some argue that the ASA and CMA should be doing more to publicly call out brands and influencers who breach the rules and follow this up with more stringent punishments (other than removing the offending content). In fact, 16 celebrities have made formal commitments to follow these new guidelines and others like Lucy Mecklenburg, Jameela Jamil and Sophie Turner are calling out brands as well as their peers on misleading adverts and irresponsible partnerships.

Whatever happens next, law firms working with influencers and brands can expect an increase in advisory and consultancy work regarding this niche industry as new technologies are introduced and regulations continue to be updated. Brands should ensure they are carrying out their due diligence when selecting influencers to work with – and vice versa – and ensure any contracts they sign have strong moral and termination clauses if things go viral for all the wrong reasons.

Report written by Hannah-Mei Grisley

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