A tweet from Lord Alan Sugar, seen on 9 December 2019, stated "If you know someone who's longing for whiter teeth, this is the perfect xmas gift for them. For more details and to buy go to https://stylsmile.co.uk/collections/frontpage/products/lighten-up'.” Embedded in the tweet was another tweet by Stylsmile UK, which promoted a 'STYLSMILE Teeth Whitening Toothbrush Kit'.
IssueThe complainant, who understood that Lord Alan Sugar was a director of STYLIDEAS Ltd, challenged whether the ad did not make clear its commercial intent.
ResponseStylideas Ltd t/a Stylsmile and Lord Sugar said that Stylsmile UK was a business run by a winner of the TV show The Apprentice and Lord Sugar. Lord Sugar was a 50% partner in the business; they believed that was a well-known fact because the partnership was made public on a primetime TV show in front of millions of viewers. They said Lord Sugar was known to post about his businesses on a daily basis on social media and the tweet was not a covert promotion.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and that they must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context. The ASA understood that Lord Sugar was a director and partner of Stylideas Ltd and therefore had a commercial relationship with the brand. The ad included a link that allowed consumers to purchase the product from the Stylsmile UK website as well as an embedded tweet from Stylsmile UK about their product. Because the content of the tweet promoted the product and was directly connected to the supply of goods through the link, we considered that the tweet was a marketing communication which fell within the ASA’s remit.
We next considered whether the tweet was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and made clear its commercial intent. The tweet included an endorsement to buy the product as a “perfect xmas gift”. We understood that Lord Sugar tweeted about brands he had both a commercial interest in and those he did not. We considered that although Lord Sugar was a well-known investor, it was not immediately clear to all consumers that he had a commercial interest in Stylsmile UK from the tweet itself. We therefore concluded that the commercial intent behind the tweet was not made clear upfront and it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
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 Stylideas Ltd t/a Stylsmile UK and Lord Sugar to ensure that they made clear the commercial intent of their posts in future, for example by including a clear and prominent identifier on their social media posts such as #ad.