… and the answer? If you’re going to vlog to flog then you need to be clear that you are vlogging to flog products and that you are not just generally blogging!
So what is a vlogger?
A vlogger is someone who posts a video blog on any topic. It could be something personal such as someone discussing the trials and tribulations of their day, make up application tips or how to make the best omelette. Or it could be more sales-focused – for example, discussing the benefits of a product.
It is the latter type of vlogging which has recently led to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) – responsible for writing and maintaining the UK advertising codes and providing advice on the rules – clarifying the rules on vlogging. The guidance states that vlogging to flog is fine as long as it’s clear that the vlog contains advertising material.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles
The issuance of this guidance followed a decision from industry regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2014 that five YouTube videos from vloggers, all of which featured Oreo biscuits were not clearly marked as containing advertising content.
The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising code states:
Advertisements must be obviously distinguishable from editorial content, especially if they use a situation, performance or style reminiscent of editorial content, to prevent the audience being confused between the two. The audience should quickly recognise the message as an advertisement.
If used in an advertisement, an expression or sound effect associated with news bulletins or public service announcements (for example, “news flash”) needs special care. The audience should quickly recognise the message as an advertisement.
The Code is enforced by the ASA who will take steps to remove or have amended any advert which breaches these rules. The ASA held that the five videos did in fact breach the code.
To help resolve ambiguity moving forward, CAP has highlighted that a key rule for vloggers should be that if the content is controlled by the marketer, and not the vlogger, and is written in exchange for payment (which could be a monetary payment or free items) then it is an advertisement feature and must be labelled as such.
CAP’s guidance provides eight scenarios which demonstrate the application of UK advertising rules to vlogging and practical advice on how to ensure that the rules apply to your vlog.
To vlog or not to vlog?
CAP does not have concerns with vloggers and vloggers entering into commercial relationships; its issue is if the consumers are misled. The guidance makes it clear, with practical examples, as to what you can and cannot do which can only be a good thing for both vloggers and consumers.