Why these influencer posts breached Ad Standards

It has been determined by Ad Standards Australia that two recent influencer Instagram posts have breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) distinguishable advertising rules.

If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of these rules, last year the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AIMCO) released its code of practice for Australian influencers, which encourages more ethical conduct in the industry.

Earlier this year, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) also published a code of ethics that treats influencers as any other traditional advertiser, asking them to “disclose commercial relationships in a clear, upfront manner that can be easily understood”.

As part of these guidelines, Ad Standards ask influencers and brands to disclose partnerships by using the hashtags #ad and #sponsored, or any other clear markers to avoid breaching the code and copping heavy rulings.

One influencer who recently broke these rules was Nadia Fairfax, as reported by Mumbrella. The 32-year-old raised some eyebrows back in June, following her post about Samsung flip phones. She captioned the post: “Z FLIP(ing) around FW with these two…. @galaxybysamsung’ and included the hashtags #WorkingWithSaumsuing #GalaxyZFlip #NadiaTakesSamsung.

Subsequently, Fairfax received an abundance of complaints that while her post was clearly an advertisement, it had not been declared, as per the above rules of social media advertising.

Initially, Samsung said that Fairfax had been an influencer for Samsung for seven years, and that the post in question was “not part of the deliverables” under their working agreement.

“Samsung’s position is that the Post is not advertising. However, if the Post is deemed to be advertising, Samsung submits that it is appropriately distinguishable as advertising,” Samsung said.

Following this, the company asked that the complaints be dismissed because “the post does not fall within “the scope of advertising covered by the Code, since Samsung did not have reasonable control over it, but that, in any event, the Post was clearly identifiable as being commercial in nature.”

The Ad Standards Community Panel ruled that although the post was outside of the agreement between Samsung and Fairfax, there was clearly motivation for Fairfax to post, meaning the post was not classified as ‘organic content.’ Therefore, it did not meet the definition of advertising under the code and breached section 2.7 relating to distinguishable advertising.

The advertiser disagreed with the ruling, but moved to have the Fairfax update her post with #BrandedContent in the caption. Samsung also revealed it intends to request an independent review of the Community Panel’s ruling.

Another influencer who experienced something similar was Sarahs Day. She posted a series of stories featuring hair products by brand, Tropeaka, which received a number of complaints due to Day also not disclosing that her posts were sponsored with the use of the hashtags #ad, #paidpartner or #sponsored.

The Ad Standards Community Panel considered that “the placement of the product, highlighting the product’s ingredients and sharing before photos did amount to material which would draw the attention of the public in a manner designed to promote the brand.”

The panel was not able to determine the exact nature of the relationship between the advertiser and influencers, however it found that tagging the brand was not sufficient enough to determine the distinguishable advertising aspect of the code of ethics, meaning that the stories breached the code.

Tropeaka did not respond to initial complaints and has not provided a response to the ruling.