An Instagram post on TV personality Olivia Buckland’s page, seen on 12 February 2019, featured an image of Olivia holding a pink bottle with the logo “CB” visible on it.
The visible caption on the post stated “The V-Day prep is well underway and I’m topping up my tan with my fave @cocoabrowntan by @marissacarter 1 HOUR TAN MOUSSE… more”. Once the caption was clicked on, additional text stated “Original –it gives me such a natural glow with no streaks and is the perfect accessory for date night with bae [heart eye emoji] Get yours now @superdrug #TeamCB #CocoaBrownTan #ValentinesDay #BrandAmbassador”.
The complainant challenged whether the post was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
Cocoa Brown said they advised Olivia that #ad should be used on all future posts on Instagram. Olivia Buckland said that #BrandAmbassador was used on the post, in addition to her Instagram Bio. She provided a dictionary definition of a brand ambassador as “a person who is paid or given free products by a company in exchange for wearing or using its products and trying to encourage others to do so”. She believed this made clear that some of her posts were marketing communications.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials were marketing communications. The ASA understood that as a brand ambassador for Cocoa Brown, Olivia Buckland was paid to market their products, and that Cocoa Brown had some control over any content she produced in relation to their products. We therefore concluded the post was a marketing communication which fell within the ASA's remit.
We next considered whether the post was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication. We noted that Ms Buckland believed that the inclusion of the term “brand ambassador” in her bio made clear that some of her posts were marketing communications. However, we considered that her bio was unlikely to be seen by Instagram users at the point they were viewing individual advertising posts.
We also considered that labels included in the bio were insufficiently prominent to ensure that individual posts were each obviously identifiable as ads, both when the post was viewed in-feed and when it was viewed in its entirety once users had clicked on it. Additionally, while the term “brand ambassador” was likely to suggest to readers a general relationship with the brand, we considered that it was unlikely to convey that Cocoa Brown had both paid for and had a level of control over the content of the post. We then assessed the post as it would have appeared in-feed and considered that there was nothing in its content, such as “#ad” placed upfront, that made clear to those viewing it that it was an ad.
We considered the post was therefore not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and as such breached the Code. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 2.1 and 2.4 (Recognition of marketing communications).
The ad must not appear in the form complained of. We told Cocoa Brown and Olivia Buckland to ensure that their ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, for example by including a clear and prominent identifier such as #ad.