TV personality Keith Chegwin Tweeted “Just a quickie: log on to pchprizes 4 your chance 2 win £100K ..” A complaint was made to the ASA that this was not transparent enough about its commercial nature. Publishers Clearing House said they had not been aware of the Tweet. So was it OK? Tom Harding reports.
Topic: Social Media
Who: Genting Alderney Ltd t/a Publishers Clearing House
When: January 2013
Law stated as at: 9 January 2013
As regular readers of marketinglaw.co.uk will be aware, Twitter is an increasingly popular marketing channel. However, it is equally becoming increasingly scrutinised, and we seem to be reporting more and more on ASA activity in the area.
Keith Chegwin is, to those of us that are slightly more ‘senior’, a legendary children’s TV presenter – shows such as ‘Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’ and ‘Cheggers Plays Pop’ firmly have their place in the TV hall of fame. Not one to shy away from embracing social media, and with some 125,000 followers, Keith Tweeted “Just a quickie: Log on to pchprizes.co.uk 4 Your chance 2 win £100k plus Win £2,500 a week for life. Have a go X”.
Unfortunately, someone complained to the ASA and challenged whether this was a marketing communication, and should therefore be identified as such.
The Publishers Clearing House (PCH) said that, although Keith did have a promotional relationship with them, Tweeting was not specifically part of his remit, and they had played no part in the Tweet which was entirely within Keith’s sole editorial control. PCH equally submitted that in any event the Tweet was clearly identifiable as a marketing communication, and Keith had ‘constructed it in such a way as to make it look like a commercial communication, and it was highly unlikely that anyone could have been misled.’
The ASA first considered whether the Tweet was a marketing communication. Acknowledging that Keith was not contractually bound to send Tweets, he was nonetheless directly involved with PCH’s promotions (featuring prominently on the promoted website for example) and the Tweet was therefore directly related to, and formed part of, his general promotional activity. As the Tweet was therefore considered a marketing communication, even though Keith had composed the Tweet himself, the ASA held it was PCH’s responsibility to ensure that it was compliant.
The ASA also noted that Twitter users receive many Tweets which they may ‘scroll through quickly’. In that case, and as the Code requires, promotional Tweets must be ‘obviously identifiable’ as marketing, and not just ‘identifiable’. The ASA went on to find that although the website the Tweet linked to made clear Keith was acting a promotional capacity, the Tweet itself didn’t – as we have seen with other ASA decisions, it was the lack of a ‘#ad’ identifier that was the crucial omission.
As a result, the ASA held that the Tweet breached rules 2.1, 2.3 and 2.4 of the Code and should no longer appear.
Why this matters:
More and more promotional Tweets are coming under ASA scrutiny. Although there does seem to have been a degree of inconsistency as to how some of these have been treated, the safest way to ensure compliance is to always include an ‘#ad’ or ‘#spon’ disclosure. There is admittedly a degree of sympathy for PCH here as they did not sanction the Tweet, but on this basis it is all the more important that
marketers ensure they are in control of all promotional activity run on their behalf.