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#AD: New Guidance for Influencers

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In November we wrote about the guidance published by the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) clarifying the rules that apply to social media influencers.  Now, further guidance on the rules regarding social media endorsements has been published by the Competition & Markets Authority (“CMA”). 

Published alongside an announcement that the CMA have obtained formal commitments from a number of prominent celebrities and influencers with regard to the clear labelling of endorsements, this guidance is motivated by the desire to increase transparency and prevent misleading representations. 

What should influencers be doing?

To this end, the new guidance stipulates that influencers should:

  1. Make it clear when they have been paid, given or loaned things. 
  2. Be transparent about commercial relationships they have, or have had, with a brand or business within the last year.
  3. Not be misleading.

The CMA guidance is not prescriptive and there will be more than one way that influencers can inform consumers of a commercial brand relationship.  What is clear is that the disclosure of the above information should be made to the consumer upfront, without the need to click through for more information.  Payments or incentives for promotion should be transparent, easy to understand, unambiguous, timely and prominent. 

How can influencers be transparent and avoid misleading consumers?

The CMA has said that wording such as #advert or #ad could be useful indicators; however, this will be context dependent.  Merely using #ad directly after a brand name or hiding it in a collection of other hashtags so that it is not prominent, will probably not be sufficiently clear.  Wording such as ‘made possible by…’ or ‘in collaboration with…’ is also deemed too vague. 

This guidance provides valuable clarification and emphasises the CMA’s focus on the industry.  It is important that brands, marketing teams and influencers alike are familiar with these rules so as to ensure they do not fall foul of any enforcement action.

If you think you may be affected by these rules and would like to enquire about advice for yourself or your business, please contact Simon Porter on 01252 730754 or email simon.porter@baker-law.co.uk.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.

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