Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Sanofi UK (Sanofi) with ‘ThisMamaLife’
Where: United Kingdom
When: 3 July 2019
Law stated as at: 5 August 2019
In February 2019, vlogger / Instagrammer ‘ThisMamaLife’ posted an Instagram featuring herself smiling in bed with a packet of sleeping tablets on her bedside table. The post was clearly labelled as an “[AD]” at the very start of the post, recommended the product for sleepless nights and ended with ‘#ad’. The ASA challenged whether the ad had used a celebrity to endorse a medicine, which would be a breach of the CAP Code (rule 12.18).
Sanofi, the manufacturer of the sleeping tablets, argued that ThisMamaLife had a small following, which was unlikely to influence a consumer’s decision in respect of medicine. ThisMamaLife had 32,000 followers at the date of the post, which was significantly less than celebrities such as Stephen Fry and David Beckham. In addition, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (the consumer healthcare UK trade association) had green-lighted the partnership.
The ASA, however, decided that 30,000 followers is a significant number of people and a wide reach. Therefore, ThisMamaLife was considered to be a celebrity for the purpose of the CAP Code and the complaint was upheld.
Why this matters:
The term “celebrity” is rarely used in the CAP Code. It is used in rule 12.18 (as mentioned above) and in respect of using celebrities (or licensed characters) in the promotion of food to children (rule 15.15). However, in the age of influencers, bloggers, vloggers and our love of social media, the ASA’s view on who is a “celebrity” and/or is of influence was almost certainly waiting to be defined.