1 March 2016 is the implementation date for the 7th edition of the Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland. The Code are the rules of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, which is the independent self-regulatory body for the advertising industry. While the scope of the Code was already extended in 2013 to advertisers using social network sites, advertisers who rely on bloggers or vloggers to promote their products should be aware of the requirement to clearly flag marketing communications.

In particular, the Code requires advertisements to be designed and presented to the public as a marketing communication without misrepresenting the true purpose. Advertisers should ensure that when using private blogs, user-generated content or independent reviews that they make clear to the viewer/reader that the purpose is the promotion of a product.

In the UK, the equivalent authority has banned campaigns for failing to clearly label marketing communications on social media. One particular campaign for Oreo biscuits, which used Youtube to promote its product, was found to have failed to clearly mark the commercial intent of the Youtube video. Emphasis was placed on the failure to disclose this prior to consumer engagement. As a result, the ASA concluded that the ads were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications. A set of vlogger guidelines has since been published which includes that the responsibility to make clear the “advertorial” nature of the video rests with both the vlogger and the brand itself.

We expect a similar approach will be applied in Ireland with emphasis being placed on disclosures being made before consumer engagement on social media rather than after.