Last week, the ASA made a ruling on an advertiser who had run some campaigns with popular vloggers and it caused a bit of a stir.
Oreo asked a few vloggers to produce vlogs about their product, mostly involving a “lick race”. While some of the vloggers did not (according to the ruling notes) make any mention of this being a paid for promotion, the others did put in the description things like “Thanks to Oreo for making this video happen” or said “Oreo got in contact…”. While as bloggers, we understand that these kind of phrases mean that this is more likely a paid for placement, this is not as obvious as it should be to the average non-blogging viewer.
The advertiser did provide a brief to the vloggers stating that it should be made clear to their audiences that they were working with the brand, but one of the videos in the complaint did not appear to make any mention of this. This is an important point, because this then puts the pressure on the vlogger rather than the advertiser (and also, it could potentially mean the brand could say that their brief hasn’t been followed, so they wouldn’t have to make payment. Always make sure you’re doing exactly what has been agreed to so there’s no way to get out of paying you!)
The ruling now says that if a vlogger receives payment for a video, then they must make it very obvious – just saying things like “Thanks to [brand] for making this possible” isn’t enough. The CAP code requires adverts to be very clearly identifiable – since the videos created would appear like any other video on that channel (which is pretty much the point!), a good way to make it obvious would be to put “Ad: ” in the title of the video. However, that could turn off viewers – would you choose to watch a video that was clearly an advert for something?
We’ve discussed the original ASA ruling on blogging and disclosure previously, and this is an important ruling for bloggers and vloggers alike. It shows that the ASA is looking more carefully at the paid placements, and we believe there will be more rulings in the next year or so, especially with the current focus on vloggers in the news.
The ruling was made on one complaint from a BBC journalist – you might think that you’re OK to not disclose as an advertiser has requested, but that’s actually going to leave you more vulnerable. Don’t be the example the ASA use!