A video entitled "Easy Lip Makeup Tutorials for Winter Time" viewed on the "Beauty Recommended" You Tube channel, featured a model vlogger. It showed the vlogger talking about and using a number of Max Factor products, as well as products from other brands, in the context of a lip makeup tutorial. At the beginning of the video text appeared which stated "Sponsored by BEAUTY RECOMMENDED, brought to you by Procter & Gamble". The video description, which could be viewed in full by clicking the text "SHOW MORE" beneath the video, summarised the content of the video, listed all six Max Factor products featured and included a link to buy the products via the online shop "SuperSavvyMe". Text at the bottom of the description stated "Sponsored by BEAUTY RECOMMENDED, brought to you by Procter & Gamble".
The complainant, a beauty and style blogger who understood that the channel and video were owned and created by Procter & Gamble (who owned Max Factor), challenged whether the video was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd confirmed that they owned the “Beauty Recommended” channel and had editorial control over the content of all the videos uploaded to the channel. They said their approach ensured that a viewer was aware that the vlog was sponsored before they engaged with the material. They believed that engagement with the material started when a consumer started viewing the vlog. Therefore, for vlogs posted on their channel, such as the “Easy Lip” example, they added clear text at the opening of the video, on iDents and at the end of the video stating “sponsored by Procter & Gamble” or if next to a logo, text such as Beauty Recommended “sponsored by [logo], brought to you by Procter & Gamble”. Further, they believed that "Beauty Recommended" was seen by many viewers as a brand in its own right and so consumers would clearly understand that the videos were of a commercial nature.
For the “Easy Lip” vlog they included the wording “sponsored by Beauty Recommended brought to you by Procter & Gamble” both in a drop-down section on the title page, if clicked, and then both at the start and end of the vlog once it started to run. They believed that approach went further than their competitors and made clear to any viewer that the content was sponsored by Procter & Gamble.
The ASA noted that the “Beauty Recommended” channel was owned by Procter & Gamble, and featured popular vloggers predominantly using and promoting Procter & Gamble brands. Therefore, we understood that all the videos uploaded to the "Beauty Recommended" channel were marketing communications. The Code required that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and we considered that, in the case of marketing vlogs, consumers needed to be aware that they were viewing marketing content prior to engagement, meaning that consumers needed to know that they were selecting an ad to view before they opened and watched it.
We noted that Procter & Gamble believed that viewers would recognise "Beauty Recommended" as an independent brand. We considered, however, that consumers would not necessarily be aware that the brand was owned and controlled by Procter & Gamble just by, for example, being clearly linked to one of their brands. We noted that the “Beauty Recommended” channel page gave no indication that the content was created by Procter & Gamble and that the channel title, and individual video titles, did not include any text to explain the commercial nature of the content. In the case of the “Easy Lip” tutorial, we noted that it wasn’t until a viewer had selected and opened the video that text, embedded in the video, referred to "Procter & Gamble". We considered that viewers should have been aware of the commercial nature of the content prior to engagement. Furthermore, we considered that "sponsored by" and "brought to you by" did not make clear the marketing nature of the videos. Although they might indicate to some viewers that Procter & Gamble had been involved in the process, they did not clearly indicate that the videos were marketing communications, as opposed to, for example, material that had been financially sponsored, but over which the creator retained editorial control. For those reasons, we considered that consumers would not be aware that the videos were ads promoting Procter & Gamble, and instead were likely to believe the videos were impartial editorial content. We concluded, therefore, that the videos within the “Beauty Recommended” channel, including the “Easy Lip” tutorial, were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.
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),
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. and 3.5 3.5 Marketing communications must not materially mislead by omitting the identity of the marketer.
Some marketing communications must include the marketer's identity and contact details. Marketing communications that fall under the Database Practice or Employment sections of the Code must comply with the more detailed rules in those sections.
Marketers should note the law requires marketers to identify themselves in some marketing communications. Marketers should take legal advice. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd to ensure that future ads in this medium made their commercial intent clear prior to consumer engagement.