The ASA Is Cracking Down On Influencers' Ads-In-Disguise

By Holly Brockwell on at

We don't follow anyone from Love Island on Instagram, but apparently a lot of people do, and those people are being duped into thinking their favourite fake-tanned, fake-toothed, fake-nailed, fake-haired celeb is being genuine.

The Advertising Standards Authority is in full kick-bottom mode at the moment, having just banned a Red Bull ad that promised you an early workday finish, and now they're turning their narrowed eyes to people pretending they "totes love this product" when in fact they're being paid.

The ASA says despite this being new ground for them, they've already issued warnings to about 300 influencer types to sort themselves out. Stephanie Davis of Celebrity Big Brother and Millie Mackintosh from Made In Chelsea are among those who've been told to be more transparent with their advertising.

It's not a lot the ASA asks for – just a hashtag along the lines of #ad or #spon. 'Ad' is literally two letters, and influencers playing by the rules tend to stick it right at the end of a very long caption, so no one sees it anyway. Not the most onerous of regulations to follow, but still some of them aren't playing ball.

Stephanie Davis' post was promoting some vitamins, and she ended up editing the caption to add #ad right at the end. Look how prominent it is in the giant, beautifully-written caption:

So recently I've took my extensions out to give my hair a good break, its been though ALOT of changes and colouring and you could see the strain on my hair. Also using heat, straightening, styling using products on my hair has make it more brittle and damaged, so I've been using @hairburst to combat this adding shine and health to my hair Diet - as always being on the go i cant always get the required vitamins and minerals could leave your hair deficient and cause issues with the hair, Hairburst contains all the vitamins and minerals i need and is not only only a great multi vitamin but has the added hair growth ingredients. So ladies if your hair is in need I defiantly recommend Hair Burst
I have also got a discount code for you lovely people 💓💇🏻 The discount code - SD10 (for 10% off @hairburst ) #hairburst#ad #hair #health

Not a big deal, really, is it? Three characters out of 839? So why not include it in the first place?

Millie Mackintosh, to be fair, did try to play by the rules while advertising some kind of health drink, but used the wrong hashtag – #sp. It's supposed to be #spon or #ad, you can't make up your own. The ASA said it wasn't clear, and she was told to change it.

The ASA even has a PDF guide especially for influencers to make this stuff clear, but hey. We can't ask too much of these people, they're totes busy and impor'ant, innit?