Summary of Council decision:
1 issue investigated and Upheld
A post on @aliyahmariabee’s Instagram account, seen on 3 March 2018, featured an image of Aliyah holding a pot of Coco Shine teeth whitener. The caption stated “Morning y’all so recently I’ve been using this teeth whitener and I’m very happy with my results. It’s super affordable make sure you guys go check out @cocshineau (DISCOUNT CODE: ALIYAH40 for 40% off)”.
The complainant, who believed the post was a paid-for brand endorsement, challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
Coco Shine did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
Aliyah Maria Bee confirmed that the post had been removed from Instagram.
The ASA was concerned by Coco Shine’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such and that they made clear their commercial intent, if that was not obvious from the context. Furthermore, marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials were marketing communications. We noted that Aliyah Mariah Bee featured on the “affiliates” page of Coco Shine’s website, where it stated that affiliates would receive a commission for every sale on their website when their discount code was used. We considered that because the post was created by Aliyah Maria Bee for Coco Shine, Coco Shine and Aliyah were jointly responsible for ensuring that promotional activity conducted on Coco Shine’s behalf was compliant with the CAP Code.
The post included the handle @cocoshineau and a personalised discount code “ALIYAH40” for followers to get 40% off Coco Shine’s teeth whitener. The text referred to Aliyah’s own personal experience in using the product. Additionally the image which accompanied the text was a ‘selfie’ of Aliyah holding the product in such a way that the labelling was clearly visible and the product was the primary focus. While the post differed in some respects from her usual posts and contained some elements that indicated there might be a commercial relationship between Aliyah and Coco Shine, we considered that the content and context of the post did not make clear that it was advertising, as opposed to, for example, genuinely independent editorial content or sponsored editorial content. Therefore, in the absence of a clear identifier, such as “#ad”, we concluded that the post was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such. 2.3 2.3 Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession; marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context. and 2.4 2.4 Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them "advertisement feature". (Recognition of marketing communications).
We welcomed Aliyah Maria Bee’s removal of the post. We told Coco Shine and Aliyah Maria Bee to ensure that that their ads and affiliate posts were obviously identifiable as marketing communications in future, for example, by including a clear identifier such as “#ad”. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance Team.