The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (“ASAI”) recently called on bloggers and influencers to fully declare paid-for content. This announcement confirms that its gaze is now firmly fixed on the ever-growing ‘influencer market’ and that companies engaged in advertising and marketing products in conjunction with bloggers, celebrities and other online influencers should ensure that such communications are clearly flagged as marketing communications (“Marcoms”) and comply with the general requirements of the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland (the “Code”).
A year after the publication of its guidance on the recognisability of Marcoms (further details of which can be found here), the ASAI has publicly called on bloggers and influencers to fully declare which content has been paid for and controlled by advertisers. The ASAI is now engaged in the monitoring of online platforms to evaluate adherence to its Code (the most recent version of which can be found here). This recent announcement is a reminder of the broad scope of the Code which applies to all commercial marketing communications, regardless of the medium in which they appear.
In her commentary surrounding the recent announcement, Orla Twomey, the CEO of the ASAI highlighted the following:
- It is of primary importance, that consumers are aware that the content is a Marcom before they engage with online content. Ms Twomey described the inclusion of “#ad” as an “almost perfect” way to flag Marcoms given that it is clear, short, simple and well recognised. However she recognised that this was not the only solution and advised that any means which clearly identifies the content as a Marcom would be sufficient to comply with the Code.
- The test for a Marcom is whether the content in question has been paid for and controlled by the advertising company. Where the company or brand has no control over the content produced by the individual blogger or influencer, the ASAI will not consider the content to be a Marcom. However, disclosure may still be required by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission under the Consumer Protection Act 2007 and therefore best practice would be to disclose the commercial relationship.
- While bloggers and influencers are required to adhere to the Code, the onus is on the advertiser to ensure adherence and to ensure that the content generated by bloggers and influencers is legal, decent, honest and truthful.