Who: Henkel Ltd t/a Dylon and Buzzfeed Ltd
Where: the Advertising Standards Authority
When: 13 January 2016
Law stated as at: 20 January 2016
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint in respect of an advertorial for Dylon that featured on the entertainment and news website BuzzFeed.
The complainant challenged whether the advertisement was obviously identifiable as such.
The advertorial was headed “14 Laundry Fails We’ve All Experienced.” It was styled as a BuzzFeed article and included photos and social media posts showing examples of laundry “fails.”
Under the heading text stated “Dylon Brand Publisher” next to a Dylon logo. At the bottom of the advertorial, text said: “It’s at times like these we are thankful that Dylon Colour Catcher is there to save us from ourselves. You lose, little red sock!”
Dylon rely on three types of disclosure
In their defence Dylon said that in the absence of any relevant previous ASA ruling, they had followed US practices for labelling ads. In particular they pointed out that:
- the Dylon logo was featured at the top of the webpage alongside the text “Dylon Brand Publisher”.
- in the “Dylon Colour Catcher/little red sock” pay-off at the bottom of the page, “Dylon Colour Catcher” appeared in a different colour and linked to the Colour Catcher website.
- where the ad was promoted on their website’s homepage it was flagged with a highlighted label in yellow, stating “PROMOTED BY” and followed by the Dylon name and logo.
The ASA considered the disclosures at #3 above but disregarded them. They said that as there were a number of ways in which consumers could arrive at the advertorial, the webpage itself had to make it clear that it featured advertorial content.
The ASA noted disclosures #1 and #2 and also that the webpage included a live feed from Dylon’s Colour Catcher Facebook page, plus links to two “Top Posts From Dylon”.
All of these, the regulator accepted, implied a connection with Dylon. However, the ASA did not consider they made sufficiently clear that the main content of the webpage was an advertorial and that editorial control was retained by the advertiser.
Also the web page was very long and readers would not see the Dylon Colour Catcher reference and website link until they had already engaged with the content.
Did “Brand Publisher” help?
What about the “Brand Publisher” label?
This was not particularly prominent, the ASA said. Furthermore, with or without the other disclosures, “Brand Publisher” did not in the regulator’s view adequately convey the commercial nature of the content.
Therefore the finding was that the advertorial was not obviously identifiable as such, thereby breaching 2.1 and 2.4 of the CAP Code.
Why this matters:
The ASA adjudication concluded by telling Henkel and BuzzFeed to in future use labels other than “Brand Publisher” to ensure that ads were obviously identifiable as such. As is normal in such cases, however, no helpful suggestion was made as to what alternative label might work.
Whatever label is used, it is important that readers are left in no doubt that editorial control is retained by the advertiser.
The decision also makes it clear that whatever may be established disclosure practice in the US is not necessarily going to cut any ice here.
Also underlined is a point emphasised in previous ASA “native advertising” decisions. This is the importance of making suitably clear disclosures in such a way that readers will definitely see them before they engage with the promotional content, regardless of how they arrive at it.