Postal service Australia Post appears to have been caught out over its use of social media influencers, after it emerged it was paying people without disclosing that their endorsements were being paid for.
Talent management agency Moda Creative is understood to have paid instagrammers, including Ashy Bines, Camilla Akerberg and Jeska Lee, on behalf of Australian Post for the posts, which appear to be in breach of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) guidelines for online reviews.
Some of the instagrammers involved have up to 400,000 followers and appear to have been deleting comments critical of the lack of disclosure.
The matter was first flagged with Australia Post by users on social media. When approached by the media about the matter a spokesman for the organisation would not comment on whether the posts were paid but said: “Australia Post requires our suppliers to comply with ACCC guidelines for online reviews and include the appropriate disclosures.
“We will be addressing this with our suppliers.”
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Mumbrella understands that since the matter was raised with the postal service it and its PR agency, Propeller PR, has been in contact with Moda Creative and its Instagrammers to address the posts and ensure that they have the required disclosure. At the time of publishing the instagram posts had not been updated.
“We are very careful about who we work with and Moda Creative have been nothing but professional,” said Nichola Patterson, managing director of Propeller PR. “As soon as we saw the posts go live, we spoke to Moda and asked them to get their influencers to update their posts with the appropriate disclosure.
“They instantly agreed and are reaching out to their bloggers as we speak. They will reinforce our requirements with all the other people involved in the campaign.”
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The ACCC guidelines on online reviews requires disclosing commercial arrangements with reviewed businesses specifying “a prominent explanation of the nature and extent of the commercial relationship and its impact, if any, on the review page of the affected business”.
Questioned about whether his influencers where meeting the guidelines Wade Foxx managing director of Moda Creative said there were disclaimers elsewhere on their websites, noting that some of the posts were paid for.
“It is my understanding that Australia Post and all influencers engaged are disclosing,” said Foxx.
“Influencers are paid given products/services, however they have tested and used the product or service and their review, if any, is by right, their own opinion. If they don’t like or use the product they don’t promote it.
“Provided advertising or promotion is genuine there is no major issues or breaches.”
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In one of the Moda Creative posts it appears that instagrammer Ashy Bines was deleting comments which were critical of the lack of disclosure in the Australia Post post.
The remaining comments criticise those who argued that Bines should have disclosed that the post was paid.
User tashyk78 wrote: “OMG some people really need to get a life, far out!!!! Everyone is allowed to publicly recommend anything they friggin like. I’m sure that Ashy is just sharing a positive thing that most of us with busy lives would appreciate…
“Your an idiot @misscoca & so are you@gianniborrelli for commenting with your ACCC bullshit. Get a life people & stop clogging my lovely happy instagram with your stupid negativity!!!!!”
Instagram users @misscoca and @gianniborrelli’s original posts do not appear in the instagram feed.
Asked about the removal of negative Instagram commenters Fox said: “Ashy may remove negative comments regards herself or personal information but not negative review of products.”