Posts featuring gifts from Wellness Club and Ayla Skin breach Ad Standards

Ad Standards appears to be ramping up its application of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics’ new distinguishable advertising rule, with two more influencers called out for failing to disclose relationships with brands.

Instagram posts by Hannah Emerson (@hannahemmerson) with products from The Wellness Club and by Bonnie Rose (@_bonnierose) featuring products from Alya Skin were ruled to have breached the code.

A sample of comments received by Ad Standards in the complaint noted that neither post was marked as sponsored or paid promotion. In both situations, the advertisers noted that the products were sent as “gifts”, a murky area when it comes to disclosing sponsored content.

In the case of Emerson, The Wellness Club did not initially provide a response to Ad Standards. The panel noted both that the post did not have sponsorship transparency, and that the advertiser had previously advised that the product had been gifted with no request for her to post.

Hannah Emerson has updated her post with the hashtag #ad

During its consideration of the post, a minority of the panel considered that the advertiser did not have a reasonable degree of control over the advertisement as there was no formal agreement in place between the advertiser and the influencer about her posting the material.

However, the panel also noted that in the case of gifts to influencers, the context in which the product is given cannot be ignored. While the precise nature of the relationship between Emerson at the advertiser was unclear, “it is likely the advertiser was aware of her position of an influencer” and “chose to send Ms Emerson a gift”.

As a result, the panel considered it is “reasonable to assume that the motivation for an advertiser to provide free product to an influencer with whom they have a positive relationship is that they will post about the product”.

As a result, it was decided that the “advertisement” was not clearly distinguishable and therefore beached Section 2.7 of the code. Emerson has since added the #ad to her post.

Responding to the decision, The Wellness Club said that there was “no intention made for Hannah to advertise this tote bag for us. As Hannah has now clarified that is post is deemed advertising, I hope this will allow you to rectify this case”.

Ad Standards has also ruled that a post by Bonnie Rose featuring skin products from Alya Skin breached the distinguishable advertising code.

Rose posted an image of herself holding an Alya Skin product with some of the product on her cheek, with hashtags #alyaskin #alyaskinbabe #pinkclaymask.

Bonnie Rose has added #ad and #gifted to her post

Alya Skin’s initial response to complaints over the post originally not disclosing that it was an advertisement was to say the product was a gift.

The Ad Standards panel considered, that similarly to the case with Emerson, that “the clear placement of the product, the brand name tagged in the comments and the further information provided about the product did amount to material which would draw the attention of the public in a manner designed to promote the brand”.

The panel noted again that whether there was a direct request for Rose to post about the product or not, the advertiser should have considered that its relationship with the influencer meant she would likely post about it.

“…there was nothing in the wording of the original post and no hashtags which clearly demonstrated the relationship between Ms Rose and the brand and the circumstances surrounding the posting of the product,” the panel considered, ruling therefore that tagging the brand was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the code.

The advertiser’s response to the determination was that Rose has updated her caption to include the #ad. Mumbrella notes the post also now has the #gifted attached, a common way that influencers disclose posts about products they have received from brands for free.

The latest breaches follow Anna Heinrich, in her post for Runway The Label, Rozalia Russian, in a post for Tom Ford, and Nikki Phillips in a post for Magnum ice cream.


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