Advertising Regulator Warns Companies Over Online Product Promotion

ASA Says Companies Must Be “Up Front And Clear”

03.12.2014

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has censored Mondelez UK over an online video blog (vlog) promoting its Oreo biscuits for not clearly advising the public that the videos were adverts. 

This ruling highlights the importance to follow the advertising industry regulatory regime when organisations look to new digital marketing platforms.

The Mondelez campaign for Oreo featured several YouTube videos, presented by vloggers. The ASA banned the promotion and commented that the videos did not clearly state that a commercial relationship existed between the vloggers and Mondelez.  

Although at the end of the video Mondelez had included an acknowledgment that the video had been created with Oreo the ASA stressed that this did not go far enough.

The ASA commented that because the promotion was on a video channel which was not usually promotional then this should have been made clear to viewers of the channel before they clicked on the video link.

The ASA guidance does allow users of social media such as vloggers to enter into a commercial relationship and be paid to promote a product.  The relationship must however be made clear upfront and the advertiser must be transparent with viewers.

Expert Opinion
A key principle of the advertising codes of practice is that promotions must be obviously identifiable as adverts.

“The increasing use of digital media platforms to promote products has led to some types of promotions not being readily apparent as adverts. It is however essential that marketing teams ensure that promotions are identified upfront to the audience.

“If a video blog is used and a vlogger is being paid for the product promotion the advertiser should clearly put wording such as “advertisement”, “ad” or “promotion” in the title. Alternatively a symbol in the thumbnail should be used so that viewers understand that the video is an advert before they click on it.”
Sarah Riding, Partner