Recent decisions by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and guidelines from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) show marketing through the use of tweets remains perilous.
According to the ASA, marketing or advertising tweets need to be highlighted by hash-tag #ad or #spon, irrespective of the formality of the arrangement.
Following recent advertising tweets direct from the official accounts of Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere, the ASA decided that the precursor hash-tag #makeitcountgonike did not make it sufficiently obvious that it was a marketing communication.
Reality TV personality Gemma Collins also fell foul of the ASA when she tweeted about a haircut she was happy with and mentioned a discount. The ASA stated endorsing a product/service or advising of a discount will be deemed “marketing communication” regardless of the fact that there was no formal contract between the two parties.
An earlier decision by ASA had cleared a series of five tweets, only one of which was identified as marketing through hash-tag #spon (sponsorship) and @snickersuk. The first four tweets were deemed teasers and did not, in themselves, need to be identified as marketing. They merely encouraged greater interest in certain celebrities, not naming or picturing the product. Only on the fifth was the hash-tag #spon used and the product named. Yet taken as a whole it was “sufficiently clear” that the chain of tweets was part of a marketing campaign.
There is a fine line regarding the acceptability to the ASA of promotional tweets. However, as the ASAs main sanction is ‘naming and shaming’, it is unlikely unsolicited marketing and advertising tweets will stop until the breaches are deemed serious enough to warrant legislation or fall foul of existing laws.
It is worth noting that tweets, like any other form of published content can of course be defamatory and get the tweeter into hot legal water.