Prada pinged for Ad Standards’ distinguishable rule

Prada has become the latest brand found to be in breach of the distinguishable advertising rule in the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics (the Code).

A series Instagram stories by influencer Laura Jade Stone (@laurajadestone) where she is shown opening a box containing a Prada bag and then posing has been found to be in breach of Section 2.7 of the Code, “advertising shall be clearly distinguishable as such.”

A post by Stone featuring a Prada bag with #gift. Screenshot taken on 16 December.

The complaint to Ad Standards read: “Laura Jade Stone did not show #ad for Prada handbag. This happens a lot in her stories with high-end designer brands, hair cuts, other items she posts about.”

As they were Stories, which disappear after 24 hours, they are unable to be viewed now.

In response to the complaint, Prada emphasised that it takes its obligations about the Code seriously. Prada stated that the products were gifts, and there was no expectation that Stone would post the bag to her socials.

Prada said: “On becoming aware of the issue, Prada discussed it with the influencer’s agent and following our request, in subsequent posts relating to the Prada item in question, she has added the word “#gift” in the caption.

“Furthermore to avoid similar issues in future, we will, going forward, provide clearer guidance in relation to gifts provided to influencers to the effect that, even if they are not contractually bound to post about them, if they decide to do so, they must clearly label them in accordance with the Code.

“Since the posts which are the subject of the complaint are no longer available to view, we trust that the above will address the complaint.”

The Ad Standards Community Panel (the Panel) found that: “The advertiser chose to send Ms Stone a gift. The Panel considered that while there was no direct request or stipulation for Ms Stone to post about the gift, it is reasonable to assume that the motivation for an advertiser to provide free product to an influencer is that they will post about the product or otherwise draw the attention of their followers to the brand as Ms Stone did in this case. The Panel considered that the advertiser has undertaken the activity of giving a gift to an influencer, and in choosing to send the gift they are exercising a degree of control, and the post did draw the attention to the product.”

The Panel found that the Instagram Stories met the definition of advertising.

The Panel further found that although Stone tagged the brand in the stories, there were no other references to how she obtained the bag or identified the nature of the relationship between Stone and Prada, and the Instagram Stories were found to be in breach of Section 2.7.

Prada did not respond to the determination, although it was noted in their initial response that subsequent posts would be tagged with #gift.

Other brands that have been pinged for the distinguishable advertising rule including McDonald’s Australia and Samsung, although that decision was later reversed.


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