The UK's advertising watchdog has called out reality TV stars Chloe Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh for failing to properly disclose advertisements on their social media channels.
The four UK-based influencers – who routinely share shots of themselves using beauty products including tanning brand Iconic Bronze and hair care brand Ella Mae Paris on Instagram – were found to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) CAP Code, which states that influencers must make it explicit when a post is an advertisement to avoid potentially misleading customers.
It first threatened to name specific influencers and brands who flouted advertising rules back in March, when it warned social media stars that they could be put 'on notice', subject to future spot checks and at risk of being made an example of publicly via the watchdog's website.
The ASA said it had contacted Geordie Shore star Ferry, former The Only Way Is Essex cast member Mecklenburgh and TV personalities Khan and Marsh to warn them to include “clear and upfront” labels to indicate which of their posts were ads, such as using the #ad hashtag on Instagram.
However, the four women are said to have either failed to respond, or were found guilty of repeat offences of misleading posts, and will now be subject to a period of enhanced monitoring spot checks, while further failure to comply could result in more ASA-paid ad campaigns highlighting their behaviour, or the cases being referred to the watchdog's enforcement partners, which could lead to the removal of posts or further legal action.
The call-out comes as consumer concern about influencers' conduct on social media is reaching record highs, with the ASA reporting a 55% uptick in complaints received about influencers across various platforms in 2020, 61% of which were about ad disclosures on Instagram.
Former Love Island star Olivia Buckland is among those who have come under fire from the watchdog afer failing to adequately advertise her sponsorship deal with self-tanning brand Cocoa Brown, and being ordered to remove the posts as a result.
In response, the ASA has ramped up its efforts to crack down against influencers and brands who flout the rules in recent months, such as ordering a ban on “misleading” filters in social media campaigns that could exaggerate a beauty product's effects.