No Win: Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague broke rules with Instagram giveaway

April 22, 2021

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Reality TV star, Molly-Mae Hague has been reprimanded for breaching the rules for online competitions. 

What does this mean?

Last year, the Love Island star ran a giveaway in which the prize, valued at over £8,000, included beauty products, luxury bags, laptops, and watches. To enter the competition users had to like the post, tag a friend, and subscribe to her Instagram and YouTube channels. The rules for a prize draw competition such as this one state that, among other things, the winner should be selected randomly. 

Despite the fact that the competition attracted almost 3 million entrants, only 25 shortlisted entrants went into a random name generator to find the winner. As a result, it was questioned whether Molly-Mae had given everyone a fair chance of winning. When questioned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Ms Hague gave inconsistent accounts as to how the shortlisted entrants were chosen, and as she could not provide evidence that they had been chosen randomly, the ASA concluded that the competition had not been run fairly.

What's the big picture effect?

Until recently the Advertising Standards Authority had largely focused on influencers who failed to correctly flag their paid posts as advertisements. In 2020, the ASA found that only 35% of ads had been clearly labelled as promotional content. However, the regulatory body has now made it clear that the rules for influencer promoted products goes further than just labelling it as #ad. The ruling against Ms Hague for example comes after the ASA took action by banning the use of filters when advertising beauty products, as fake tan promoting influencers were found to be using filters that exaggerated the products’ effects. 

In targeting influencers with a large following like Ms Hague, the ASA is reminding smaller influencers that they must also abide by the same rules as other brands. The ASA has so far refrained from making a list of non-compliant influencers but has warned that it could do so in the future. Such action would likely deter brands from working with non-compliant influencers. Further, brands may seek to include specific terms in influencers’ contracts to ensure compliance with the rules and the brands’ objectives.  With increased action by the ASA, we may see greater compliance and honesty in influencer advertising in the future. However, it’s not only the ASA that is taking note, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is also cracking down on the area. The CMA recently obtained undertakings from high profile influencers and celebrities that they would comply with the rules and will make it clear when they have been paid or supplied with products.  

The ASA is clearly getting tough on social media advertising, and this is a further acknowledgement that influencer marketing is a commercial undertaking. However,  the treatment of influencers as businesses goes directly against what they seek to achieve – which is a more genuine and natural endorsement of a product.  Whether or not such restrictions will hold back the industry is doubtful, but it is certainly an area that will continue to develop at rapid speeds. 

Report written by Julie Lawford

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