Who: Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 8 October 2021
Law stated as at: 9 November 2021
The ASA has created a central hub of advice for influencers or brands running giveaways, prize draws, competitions or any other type of prize promotion on social media, encouraging individuals to learn the advertising rules around these activities. There is plenty of guidance in various forms, easy to follow checklists and videos, as well as detailed articles.
The quick-fire headings within the hub set out that the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) applies to social media promotions and that promoters are responsible for both the administration and the marketing of promotions. Influencers are advised to plan ahead, consider terms and conditions and have appropriate resources and processes in place to select winners. The ASA understands that sometimes promotions can’t be run as planned, but that influencers must deal with this in line with the rules – and reminds readers that promotions should be safe and targeted appropriately. Each point is linked through to further guidance, enabling thorough exploration and understanding of the issues.
Following the link “Am I responsible?”, a reader is taken to a page naming and shaming influencers who are in breach of the CAP Code for routinely failing to disclose when they are advertising to consumers on social media. As well as this list acting as a deterrent, these influencers will be subject to a period of enhanced monitoring spot checks and may be placed under further targeted sanctions such as ASA paid ad campaigns highlighting their continued non-compliance – and potentially referred to enforcement partners. It is also made clear that brands and influencers may be considered joint promoters and therefore be jointly liable for compliance with the CAP Code. The quick-fire headings and questions and answers at the top of the page make it clear that anyone running a promotion is responsible for following the rules.
The rules in question are pointed to and the page makes it clear that section 8 of the CAP Code (relating to promotional marketing) applies to influencers – but also that other sections and rules of the CAP Code might apply. Advertising guidance is pointed to as an aid to interpreting the CAP Code, as is the AdviceOnline database. This provides guidance on interpreting and applying the CAP Code, giving practical advice in the context of real promotions. For example, there’s guidance on promoting beauty and cosmetic products, closing dates and selecting winners of competitions. This shows the thorough attempt by the ASA to explain the rules and help businesses running promotions on social media comply; the range of content provides a wealth of resources for those looking to understand the rules.
Links to CAP insight articles are also included on the page; for example, an article on competitions that require a follower to like, tag, share or comment to enter – which can be problematic. Prizes must be awarded in accordance with the laws of chance – such as by using a random number generator on a computer or an independent person, and promoters must be able to provide evidence that this was carried out. Also, there must be a process in place to ensure entrants have fulfilled the entry requirements, all significant conditions must be presented in all posts and if there are any bonus entry mechanisms then these must be included in the draw. The ASA hub encourages users to sign up to their insight newsletter to receive further insight articles, which themselves contain links to “CAP Bitesize Videos”. The volume of content that is available as guidance for influencers is really demonstrated in this hub, making it a useful tool for influencers and those running promotions on social media.
CAP Bitesize is a series of videos to help marketers create compliant ads, which set out the principles and rules in a digestible video format. For example, the first series concerned prize promotions – and contains two-minute videos clearly setting out the guidance. On the central hub, the ASA has also published a selection of its high-profile rulings in relation to social media promotions, including on the Molly-Mae Hague’s prize competition in May 2021, and also points to the full database of rulings.
Finally, the hub makes it clear that there are sanctions available but the ASA seeks to help advertisers understand how to follow the CAP Code. The resources for further help and the array of different media resources make it a useful one-stop shop for advertisers running promotions on social media.
Why this matters:
A centralised hub of the rules around running promotions on social media ensures that influencers and businesses have simple access to a number of guides and videos, making it harder to claim ignorance of the rules. High-profile ASA rulings, such as that of Molly Mae Hague, are damaging to an influencer’s reputation – making it advisable that they are aware of this hub and understand the guidance and rules it offers.