Second TikTok video breaches Ad Standards distinguishable advertising rules

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA)’s Ad Standards continues to crack down on distinguishable advertising rules, with TikTok now firmly in the crosshairs after another breach.

Previously, Instagram influencers were the main culprits of breaches of Section 2 of the AANA Code of Ethics, but now TikTok is emerging as another area to be cracked down on.

A video posted by the account @leahjay_, run by influencer Leah Johnsen, was subject of complaints received by Ad Standards for failing to disclosure a paid deal between herself and skin care brand Go Bare Skin.

The video in question featured Johnsen trimming facial hair, before declaring she was “sick of doing this” every morning. She is then shown looking at the Priceline website on her laptop and saying ‘I’m going to go online and find my very own home device, which I found a good price on the Priceline website.”

Johnsen then logs onto Priceline and purchases the Go Bare laser hair removal device, before demonstrating the use of the device. “The Go Bare device has one to seven intensity level settings and is available from selected Priceline. You get six hundred flashes in one device which is 20 years of laser hair,” she adds.

Stills from the TikTok by @leahjay_

In an initial response that Ad Standards received from Johnsen, the influencer said the TikTok was not an ad. “I wasn’t paid to promote or share it on TikTok. I just wanted to create the content. It was for me and the brand wasn’t tagged so I can’t add the ad to it.

She then implied that there was some agreement between herself and Go Bare, saying: “I can confirm the TikTok video was not included in the agreement or paid for.”

In its consideration of whether the video breached distinguishable advertising rules, the Ad Standards Community Panel noted that the placement of the product in a video with detailed information about the product and the brand name did amount to material that was promotion of the brand.

The panel also noted that documents provided by the advertiser revealed a commercial arrangement between Johnsen and Go Bare, but that the arrangement was for content to be posted on Instagram. Despite the video in question being outside that agreement, the panel considered that the arrangement was sufficient motivation to post across other platforms.

As to whether the video breached distinguishable advertising rules, Ad Standards found that with no wording in the video or captions or hashtags to demonstrate the relationship between the influencer and the brad, that therefore the post was not clearly distinguishable as advertising and therefore breached the code.

Following the determination, Johnsen revealed she added #ad to the a pinned comment on the video as the caption cannot be edited and she does not wish to delete the video.

A TikTok video advertising a beer snorkel was ruled to have breached Ad Standards last month after the advertiser, Only Chug, failed to meet guidelines around the advertising of alcohol, which is also one of several prohibited industries listed in TikTok’s “branded content policy”.


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