When launching a new product or range there’s nothing like sending a few samples out to people who are influential in the sector to generate word of mouth. It’s a standard PR practice and not covered by the CAP Code.

Marketers might decide to pay individuals for their endorsement, and as you would expect, advertising copy featuring them would be covered by the Code.

Alternatively, an advertorial might appeal. Advertorial content is controlled by the marketer, not the publisher, and is written in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement. This approach has long been used in traditional press, is now commonplace online and is perfectly acceptable, provided that the nature of the copy is made clear for example it states “advertisement feature”.

So far so Code compliant. Problems arise however when advertisers or third parties acting on their behalf pay individuals to write positive copy and control that copy but seek to ensure that the copy is not labelled appropriately. This approach is unacceptable and the ASA has recently issued guidance to bloggers who might be approached in this way.

Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, in August the ASA upheld complaints against a blog post which included affiliate links but did not make its commercial intent clear. For more information see our guidance on Remit: Affiliate Marketing.

The ASA has upheld complaints regarding Twitter where the nature of the relationship between an individual and marketer has not been made clear or when an ad has not been obviously identifiable as such. For more information see our guidance on Remit: Social Media.

As always Copy Advice is happy to discuss potential approaches with advertisers.

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