How Many Followers Makes You A Celebrity?

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Last week, the ASA released their latest rulings, with one that caught our eye because it related to an influencer campaign. The vlogger This Mama Life posted a photo to her Instagram account, which was of her sitting in bed, wearing her pjamas and with the sponsored item sitting on her bedside table.

Image originally from instagram.com/thismamalife, post now removed

According to the ASA’s ruling, the caption was as follows:

[AD] Sleep. Who needs more of it? I’m really lucky in that I don’t actually need a lot of sleep to get by and manage to cram all sorts into my evening, being the night owl I am.
Every now and again though, daily life can get a bit overwhelming and I often find it’s my sleep that ends up suffering. I end up going to bed even later than I usually do and am not able to fall asleep. The worry of not sleeping then adds to it all and I end up a complete and utter zombie!!
Last time this happened I tried out Phenergan Night Time, which really helped. It is a pharmacy only, short term solution to insomnia for adults which works by inducing a sleepy effect thanks to its active ingredient, promethazine hydrochloride, helping you to sleep through the night.
Do you guys fall asleep easily or are you night time over thinkers like me? #AD #sleep

Judging from other posts in her feed from around the same time, the post was likely to have used the branded content tool to further highlight that it was a sponsored post.

At first glance, this seems to be more compliant than required and is a good example of what everyone should be doing with their sponsored posts, but the ASA received a complaint from someone questioning whether this was an instance of a celebrity endorsing a medicine. The ASA have guidelines that say that prescription only medicines can not be advertised to the public (if you’ve ever watched TV ads in the US, you’ll know how strange it seems to have medicines advertised at you!) and that medical professionals and celebrities should not be used in those ads.

What’s interesting about this ruling is that this has caused the ASA to define what they consider a celebrity – the figure of 30,000 followers at the time of the post is being quoted everywhere as the definition, but the ruling goes into a little more detail on that – because This Mama Life had regularly produced content over different platforms relation to her experiences and recommended products, the ASA considered her to be a celebrity for the purpose of this ruling.

What do you think – is this a good level at where to judge who is a celebrity, or should the definition of who can advertise a medicine be more wide spread?

  • LillianZahra

    Great breakdown of this! I think 30,000 followers seems low to be considered a “celebrity”? Although I’m glad there are stricter guidelines for advertising medicines, as there’s something a little questionable about influencers promoting medication…

    July 11, 2019 at 5:02 pm Reply

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