Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA); Molly-Mae Hague and PrettyLittleThing
Where: United Kingdom
When: 13 July 2022
Law stated as at: 10August 2022
An Instagram story on Molly-Mae’s account in October 2021 featured the influencer modelling a PrettyLittleThing brown bodycon dress alongside text stating “You can actually shop it now on PLT – Couldn’t not make it available for you guys too.” The post also included a direct link to PLT’s website.
An individual who saw the post complained to the ASA, alleging that the post did not make its commercial intent sufficiently clear.
In its response to the complaint, PLT confirmed that Molly-Mae is a creative director at the company and that the contractual arrangements in place with the influencer expressly state the requirement to comply with applicable laws and regulations relating to marketing and advertising, which included for the avoidance of doubt using the #ad disclosure. Both PLT and Molly-Mae’s representative claimed that the disclosure had been omitted by mistake.
In upholding the complaint, the ASA reiterated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such and must make their commercial intent clear if it is not obvious from the context. Although some of Molly-Mae’s followers may have been aware of her role as creative director at PLT, it was not clear to all consumers that she had a commercial interest from in PLT from the post itself.
The ASA also said it considered that both parties were jointly responsible for ensuring that marketing activity conducted on Molly-Mae Instagram account which promoted PrettyLittleThing was compliant with the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
Why this matters:
The ASA’s made no secret of its increasing frustration with the low levels of non-compliance by influencers in relation to the labelling of social media content as well as its willingness to crack down on such influencers who repeatedly flout the rules. Last year, the ASA introduced a dedicated page on its website to “name and shame” non-compliant influencers and has since announced that further sanctions are possible including working with social media platforms to have content removed and referring non-compliant influencers to statutory bodies.
The Molly-Mae ruling reflects the ASA’s continued tough approach and demonstrates the importance of ensuring that the commercial intent is clear to all consumers notwithstanding the fact that the influencer may have a high profile role with the brand which is understood by most consumers.