A range of social media ads for Ferrero, including a YouTube video, Instagram post and two Tweets from PointlessBlog, and an Instagram post from Zoella, about Nutella:
a. An Instagram post, posted by PointlessBlog, on 3 February 2018 featured an image of Alfie Deyes and Zoella with a selection of pastries, cakes and fruits. Accompanying text stated “Currently having a massive @Nutella brunch! … look how amazing it looks! Get involved this Monday using #WorldNutellaDay. I’m going to be on the hashtag looking through to see all of your recipes”.
b. The YouTube video, posted by PointlessBlog, on 4 February 2018 featured Alfie Deyes, his family and Zoella eating a brunch to celebrate World Nutella Day, which included various foods made with Nutella.
c. The first tweet from PointlessBlog, posted on 5 February 2018, stated “#WorldNutellaDay is finally here!! Make sure you’re using the hashtag, so I can see what you’ve made! Here’s what we made in celebration”. An embedded video titled “NUTELLA BREAKFAST PARTY” was the same video as ad (b).
d. An Instagram post from Zoella posted on 5 February 2018, featured an image of a selection of pastries, cakes and fruits and three small jars of Nutella. Accompanying text stated “Had the breakfast of all breakfasts at the weekend with @pointlessblog and the rest of the fam celebrating #WorldNutellaDay. Can breakfast be like this everyday please?”.
e. The second tweet from PointlessBlog, posted on 7 February 2018, stated “Wishing I could have this brunch all over again! #WorldNutellaDay”, and was accompanied by the same image as in ad (a).
Three complainants, who believed that PointlessBlog and Zoella were popular with children under 16 years of age, challenged whether the ads were ads for products that were high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS products) that were directed at children.
Ferrero UK Ltd said that when selecting vloggers for endorsing and advertising World Nutella Day they had considered it to be extremely important to select vloggers whose audience demographic did not exceed the percentage of audience under 16 years of age permitted in respect to HFSS food products. They said that only a small percentage of PointlessBlog and Zoella’s followers were in the 13 to 17 age bracket.
They said they had provided clear guidelines to the vloggers, stated in their contracts, in order to proactively guide them to create content in line with the CAP Code. The content was required to be addressed to an adult audience and not include any exhortation directed at children or to appeal to children.
They provided data showing that the percentage of PointlessBlog’s UK followers on YouTube who were registered on the platform as between 13 and 17 years of age was 17.6% of his total followers. The percentage of the vlog’s UK followers in that age bracket who viewed ad (b), PointlessBlog’s YouTube video ad, was 18.6%. Ferrerro also provided data which showed that the percentage of Zoella’s UK followers on YouTube who were registered on the platform as between 13 and 17 years of age was 21% of her total followers.
Ferrero said that only worldwide audience data was available on Instagram: data relating specifically to the vloggers’ UK audiences and to the audiences of their specific posts was not available. PointlessBlog’s Instagram followers who were registered as between 13 and 17 years of age comprised 20% of his total followers. Zoella’s followers in the same age bracket comprised 17% of her total followers.
Ferrero said that Twitter had removed their age analytics functions and it was therefore not possible to provide any information about the demographic mix of the vlogger’s audiences on that platform. However, they believed it was reasonable to infer that the demographic mix of PointlessBlog’s and Zoella’s followers on Twitter would be very similar to that of their YouTube and Instagram followers.
Ferrero confirmed that the World Nutella Day campaign did not include any ads in paid-for space on social media. They considered they had proactively taken all reasonable measures to ensure that the content developed by PointlessBlog and Zoella was in compliance with the Code.
PointlessBlog provided the same demographic data supplied by Ferrero. He said that people who were between 13 and 17 years of age made up only a small percentage of his following, both in the UK and worldwide. He said their YouTube and Instagram accounts were not targeted at children under the age of 16. While Twitter did not provide demographic data, it was reasonable to infer that similar if not lower demographic patterns would be replicated on that platform. He added that the age ranges provided by YouTube and Instagram did not deal specifically with those under the age of 16 and it would therefore be reasonable to infer that the percentage of his followers under the age of 16 would be lower than the percentages for the 13 to 17 age bracket. He said they could not comment on whether or not the audience of the posts was age-restricted in any way.
Zoe Sugg Ltd t/a Zoella (Zoella) said she was engaged by PointlessBlog to assist with his engagement by Ferrero; she did not have a direct relationship with, or obligations to, Ferrero. Other than featuring in the PointlessBlog posts, she did not have any other involvement in, or responsibility for, the PointlessBlog posts. However, she did take steps to review her following to ensure that her involvement in the campaign would not breach the Code. She provided the same demographic data about her following as provided by Ferrero and, like PointlessBlog, noted that the demographic data from YouTube and Instagram included people over the age of 16 in the relevant age group.
The CAP Code required that HFSS product ads must not be directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared, and that no medium should be used to advertise HFSS products if more than 25% of its audience was under the age of 16. The ads were posted by the vloggers PointlessBlog and Zoella, promoting Ferrero’s HFSS product Nutella, and were therefore all HFSS product ads for the purposes of the Code. The ASA considered that marketers should take reasonable steps to target age-restricted ads appropriately.
We first considered the context in which the ads appeared. The content on PointlessBlog and Zoella’s YouTube channels and associated social media consisted of videos, photos and posts about Alfie Deyes and Zoe Sugg’s lives. In general the content did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under 16s and did not feature under 16s. Although we acknowledged that they would be of appeal to some under 16s, we considered they would not be of greater appeal to them than those aged 16 or over. Because the ads appeared on a range of different social media platforms, we assessed each of the ads’ compliance with the Code based on the specific ways in which consumers interacted with the different platforms, the targeting tools available to advertisers on each of the different platforms when posting non-paid for content, and the data available relating to the age profile of the vlogger’s audiences.
With regard to the YouTube video, ad (b), we understood that less than 25% of PointlessBlog’s registered UK subscriber base and users who viewed his videos while logged in were registered as being under 18, and therefore that an even smaller proportion were under 16. While we understood that many people used YouTube while they were not logged in, we did not have a basis on which to believe that there would be a significant difference between the demographic profile of users viewing PointlessBlog’s videos while not logged in and his logged in or subscribed viewers.
We considered that consumers were unlikely to use Instagram or interact with the Instagram pages of individuals or businesses unless they were signed in to their Instagram account. As non-paid for posts, the Instagram posts from PointlessBlog (ad (a)) and Zoella (ad (d)) would have only have been seen by their followers and in the feeds of any followers who had re-grammed the posts. We understood that because they were non-paid for posts, neither vlogger nor Ferrero would have been able to utilise the age restrictions or interest based targeting available on Instagram for paid-for ads. We noted that less than 25% of both vlogger’s followers worldwide were registered as under 18, which was also in line with the age profile of their YouTube audiences.
The tweets (ads (c) and (e)), from PointlessBlog, would only have been seen by PointlessBlog’s followers and in the feeds of any followers or Twitter users who had either liked or retweeted the posts. We understood that because they were non-paid for posts, neither PointlessBlog nor Ferrero would have been able to utilise the age restrictions or interest based targeting available on Twitter for paid-for ads. We understood that the age demographic break down for PointlessBlog’s Twitter followers was not available from Twitter analytics and therefore neither Ferrero nor PointlessBlog was able to access such information. While we understood that many people used Twitter while they were not logged in, we considered the advertisers had used the most robust demographic data available to them (that relating to UK subscribers/viewers of the YouTube channel and worldwide followers on Instagram) when determining whether it was appropriate to place the ads in PointlessBlog’s Twitter feed. We also understood that Twitter’s overall demographic data showed that between 81% and 91% of UK Twitter users were aged 18 and over.
We considered that Ferrero, in association with PointlessBlog and Zoella, had taken reasonable steps to target the ads appropriately. We therefore concluded the ads did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ads under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 15.18 15.18 HFSS product advertisements must not be directed at people under 16 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise HFSS products, if more than 25% of its audience is under 16 years of age. (HFSS product ad placement), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.