Influencers Are Schooled -- Again -- In Staying Legal

The headline around the Advertising Standards Authority's latest report on influencer marketing has been heralded in headlines as a new simplified set of rules to make sure those who sell their posts remain on the right side of the law.

To be honest, though, anyone who checks out the lengthy report published this week would probably come away with a simple thought. This is already the way it's supposed to be done, isn't it?

That's right -- we have another campaign from the ASA to remind those who live to tell all about their latest hair extensions and where they like to buy their shoes, that there are laws around advertising and they need to obey them.

Don't get me wrong -- ASA is acting honourably here. The fact that it has to keep telling influencers the same thing, though, makes you wonder how honourable Z list celebs are.

The first part of the report, for example, reminds influencers that there is nothing wrong with accepting money to advertise a product. All they need to stay legal is to be up front about the monetary relationship with the nail varnish they're getting so excited about. That's right -- the new simplified rules on influencer marketing are pretty much yet another reiteration of the advice to add #ad or #sponsored to a post. 

There is an interesting point that an influencer can promote their own products, as long as it's clear they are the celebrity's own line of goods, without the need to add a hashtag. For this to be the case, you'd need the equivalent of Jane Fonda holding a fitness video she made as she tells the world how great it is. That's pretty obvious.

Where it might get tricky is where someone is involved heavily in a brand but it might not be known to the public because it doesn't bear their name. If George Clooney was saying how much he loves Casamigos tequilla, would the public know he is behind the brand?

It's a tricky one, isn't it, and the ASA guidance doesn't tackle this beyond saying it needs to be obvious you're talking about your own product, if that's what you're doing. For the sake of doubt, I'm not sure why they don't just recommend putting an #ad in there just for good measure.

There are also some reminders that providing a link makes an affiliate of an influencer and so normal advertising rules apply. No links to dodgy goods or services (Botox clinics beware) and no claims of success of a product or service that cannot be backed up.

Other than that, we really are at a stage where influencers are again needing to be schooled in the very basics. Yes, payment does include being given stuff, and yes, you do have to make sure the claims you're being asked to repeat are real and not mumbo jumbo boasts about weight loss and the disappearance of wrinkles. 

But most of all -- and it seems so silly that this has to be repeated -- simply add #ad #advertisement #sponsored is not just a nice-to-have, it's essential.

When it is the biggest issue influencers are having their posts banned for, it defies belief that the advice still has to be repeated.

But there you have it. Influencers are being reminded -- again -- how to be influencers. 

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