An Instagram story from influencer Molly-Mae Hague’s account, seen on 31 October 2021, showed her wearing a long, brown dress. Text stated, “… You can actually shop it now on PLT – Couldn’t not make it available for you guys too” and was followed by a link to the website, “PRETTYLITTLETHING.COM”.
IssueThe complainant, who understood that Molly-Mae Hague was a Creative Director at Prettylittlething.com Ltd, challenged whether the ad did not make clear its commercial intent.
Prettylittlething.com Ltd confirmed that Molly-Mae Hague was Creative Director at Prettylittlething and that there was a contractual agreement between them. They said the contractual agreement expressly stated the requirement to comply with applicable laws and regulations relating to marketing and advertising, which included for the avoidance of doubt using the #ad disclosure. They understood that the disclosure had been omitted by mistake and had reminded Molly-Mae Hague of the requirements of the CAP Code to prevent any similar mistakes in future.
Molly-Mae Hague’s representative also said the #ad disclosure had been left off by mistake and would be used in future.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and they must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context.
The ASA first assessed whether or not the post was a marketing communication and if it fell within the remit of the CAP Code. We understood that, as Creative Director, Molly-Mae Hague had a contractual relationship with Prettylittlething in which she was paid for her role as Creative Director and was required to post about Prettylittlething on social media. We therefore considered that posts made under that relationship fell within the remit of the CAP Code. We considered that Prettylittlething and Molly-Mae Hague were therefore jointly responsible for ensuring that marketing activity conducted on Molly-Mae Hague’s account and which promoted Prettylittlething was compliant with the CAP Code.
We next considered whether the post was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and made clear its commercial intent. We noted that the story had appeared in Molly-Mae Hague’s own account and did not contain any indication that it was a marketing communication. We considered that, while some of her followers may have known that she was a Creative Director at Prettylittlething, it was not immediately clear to all consumers that she had a commercial interest in Prettylittlething from the post itself. We therefore concluded that the commercial intent behind the story was not made clear upfront and it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication. We welcomed the assurances from both Prettylittlething and Molly-Mae Hague that similar posts would include a label such as #ad in future.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such. and 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. (Recognition of marketing communications).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd and Molly-Mae Hague to ensure that their future ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and the commercial intent was made clear, and that identifiers such as “#ad” were clearly and prominently displayed.