The rules are simple; when you post a commercial ad, you HAVE to label them as such. However, it looks like celebrity influencers have ignored this for quite a while. And now, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) of the United Kingdom, is investigating these stars for breaking the rules!
Photo of Millie Mackintosh, a culprit of breaching social media ad laws had her account banned in 2015.
Celebrity influencers are often associated with several brands and advertise goods on their behalf. Their millions of followers are then influenced to purchase these goods or services because of them. Where they go to eat, holidays, what they wear etc reflect in the decisions of their followers too. But what they’re definitely doing wrong is NOT making it clear they were paid to do so.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation
Fans and consumers are getting misled by these influencers who make thousands of dollars for a single post! The CMA is no longer having it though. “It has written to at least 10 celebrities who it said ‘can sway the shopping habits of millions’ to ask for more information about the deals they have struck to promote certain brands”, reports the Guardian.
Some of these celebs use hashtags to indicate the nature of their posts. However, according to the CMA, this is not enough. Posts should instantly show that they are being sponsored.
“If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or a holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it. So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand”, George Lusty, Senior Director for CMA’s consumer protection department, said .
“It’s really important they (consumers) are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand”
Some influencers have faced the music, and many are yet to
As part of investigations, the CMA is urging the public to send in complaints. The celebrities will be subsequently called in for interrogations. Guilty influencers are at risk of getting fined or even imprisoned. In the past, Millie Mackintosh of ‘Made in Chelsea’ fame, had her Instagram account blocked for wrongful promotion of Britvic’s J20 drink.
Earlier this year, celebrity big brother star- Stephanie Davis, faced a similar fate. Her post advertising a vitamin brand was banned from Instagram- of course for not acknowledging them.
Regardless, some experts have implied that there is a ‘thin-line’ between an unintentional post that features a product and an actual ‘paid-for’ ad.
“If you’re a footballer sponsored by Lucozade and you post a training picture with a bottle somewhere in the background, do you then have to say you’re sponsored?” Paul Crockford, an agent for musicians and athletes said.
“There has to be some common sense”, Crockford added.