SOCIAL media platform Instagram has generated several complaints to the advertising watchdog regarding influencers’ use of the site.
There has been a growing concern over the role of social influencers and whether controls over what they do are strong enough.
Some decisions were released today by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) regarding online public figures and companies, and how they go about advertising products.
Two social media influencers were at the forefront of complaints this year, with the way they promote their products under question.
Former Love Island contestant Zara McDermott is a social media influencer with a following of 1.5 million people.
The reality star has a contractual agreement in place with fashion company Missguided Ltd and uses Instagram to promote their products.
An image of Zara McDermott was posted alongside a long caption that stated “GUYS!!! Drop 2 of my @missguided edit is HERE!!!!. Even more styles, some different fabrics, and some new colours to add to the edit! Check out the Missguided website now!”.
The complainants challenged whether the post was obviously identifiable as an advert.
The ASA stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable, and that they must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context.
Zara McDermott’s agent said that, “the omission of ad labels had been a mistake on Ms McDermott’s part” and that the caption had been amended to include an ad label.
Similar to this, fellow social media influencer Chet Johnson, made famous by MTVs show Ex on the Beach, breached similar advertising conduct.
He posted two posts on his Instagram story on behalf of North Wests Competitions Ltd, who now go by the name Northern Competitions.
The two posts that went on Mr Johnsons Instagram story had ad labels on them, but the ASA felt that that the “label appeared in text that was so small that it would have been easily missed by most consumers”.
The ASA welcomed that Mr Johnson would “ensure his future marketing communications on social media were clearly and prominently labelled” in the future, however, North Wests Competitions Ltd did not respond to the ASA enquiries.
A paid-for Instagram post by @babyboofashion, an online clothing retailer, also caused controversy last year as the advert they posted could be seen as demeaning to women.
The voiceover on the advert stated, “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total [bleeped out] and no other girls can say anything about it. The hard-core girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears”.
The complaint believed the ad was “sexist, objectifying, and gave a harmful message to young women” according to the ASA.
The ASA felt that the poses done by the models in the advert were overly sexualised and that the voiceover even thought it was a quote from a film, could be taken out of context at face value.
The advert shot in October has since been banned with Babyboo Fashion failing to respond to the ASA’s enquiries.