Ahead of the Six Nations rugby tournament, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has released some timely advice on the obligations of marketers under the UK Advertising Codes.
However, as well as the Advertising Codes, marketers also need to be alive to consumer laws such as the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which are designed to protect consumers from unfair and misleading commercial practices.
One of the problems marketers face is that whilst they can control the ads they put out themselves, ensuring the compliance of the brand ambassadors they pay to endorse their products on social media can be tricky. Even if the marketer doesn’t have editorial control over the content of the message – which means it won’t be an ad for the purposes of the Codes – a failure to flag up the commercial relationship behind the message could still constitute a misleading practice under the Regulations.
One way of dealing with this is to ensure the contract with the brand ambasador grants the marketer approval rights over all social media posts, although that would give the marketer editorial control and bring the post back within the scope of the Advertising Codes.
Ultimately, marketers need to educate their brand ambassadors to ensure that they understand what is expected of them under both the Advertising Codes and the wider body of consumer law. It is good practice to include the marketer's twitter handle and hashtags such as #BrandAmbassador or #Ad in all paid-for posts.
Celebrities and social media As with all endorsements, those involving celebrities must be accurate and genuine. Marketers are reminded that ads on social media are also subject to the Code and if marketers have paid for a celebrity to mention their product or brand in a post on Facebook or Twitter, for example, and the marketer has control over the content, the post would be considered an ad and should therefore make this clear by, for example, stating “#Ad”. See Remit: Social Media.