UK ASA rejects “#sp” as insufficient to show editorial control over endorser

From a ruling on a sponsored Instagram post for Britvic soft drinks:

We considered consumers needed to be aware that they were viewing marketing content prior to engagement, meaning that they should know that they were selecting an ad to view before they watched it. We considered the branded shot clearly contributed to the ad being identifiable as such, but that it was nevertheless not sufficient to ensure that was obvious, because it appeared at the end of the video.

In addition, we considered it was unlikely to be immediately apparent to consumers what the hashtag “#sp” was intended to refer to and, as such, it was also not sufficient to ensure it was obvious the post was a marketing communication. While we understood that “#sp” was intended to communicate that the material was a ‘sponsored post’, sponsored content was a category distinct from that over which an advertiser retained editorial control. We therefore considered it was not a sufficiently accurate label for the ad, even if the meaning had been immediately apparent to consumers.

Finally, we considered the text “More of my #BlendRecommends with @drinkj2o Spritz to come!”, in particular because it identified Millie Mackintosh’s relationship “with” J2O, might indicate to some consumers that the brand had been involved in the process but that it did not clearly indicate that the post was a marketing communication, as opposed to, for example, material that had been financially sponsored, but over which the creator retained editorial control. For the reasons given, we considered consumers would not be aware before engagement that the post was an ad.

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