Does What it Says on the Biscuit Tin

Asad Ali

Asad Ali

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media; and as such adjudicates on what is and is not acceptable in terms of advertising.

The ASA has today issued new guidance to video bloggers (“vloggers”) following an investigation into five YouTube videos posted by various vloggers, all of which feature Oreo biscuits. The investigation was sparked by a complaint made to the ASA by a BBC journalist, challenging whether the video weblogs (“vlogs”) were obviously identifiable as marketing communications for the confectioner.

The ASA’s Advertising Code states that any adverts should be obviously identifiable as marketing communications.

Usually, it is very clear when an advert is in fact an advert, for example; when it appears on advertising space on the side of a bus or on a radio or television channel. However, the ASA’s ruling demonstrates that vlogs blur the distinction between what is and what is not categorised as an ad, and therefore whether or not it would be subject to regulation by the ASA.

In its ruling, the ASA states that: “[b]ecause the statements [within the vlogs] did not fully establish the commercial intent of the videos, and because no disclosures were made before consumer engagement with the material, we concluded that the ads were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications”.

Providing some guidance to vloggers and advertisers; the ASA states that “[w]here an advertiser has paid for and has editorial control over content produced by a third party, in this case the vlogger’s YouTube videos, this has to be made clear upfront”. Therefore, the vlog must make it clear that there is a sponsorship or endorsement in its link description, title or heading.

Today’s ruling is an important warning to those posting vlogs that they must make it clear to an audience when they are advertising to them, or face the threat of sanctions by the ASA.

Asad Ali
Corporate & Commercial Department        
0113 227 9202





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