Vloggers must make it clear if they’ve been paid to promote a brand, says ASA

We’ve been fascinated by the rise of vloggers (video-bloggers) over the past couple of years. Zoella, Alfie and Tanya Burr are now household names, and they appear all over the place in popular culture from article in Vogue…

We’ve been fascinated by the rise of vloggers (video-bloggers) over the past couple of years. Zoella, Alfie and Tanya Burr are now household names, and they appear all over the place in popular culture from article in Vogue to on stage at the BBC’s Teen Awards. Zoella, real name Zoe Sugg, yesterday released her first novel Girl Online, which is set to become a Christmas bestseller.

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Each of these vloggers keeps an active online presence, regularly uploading ‘diary’ style videos, tips, how to guides, challenges and general banter to YouTube for their fans to see and comment on. But it’s the sheer influence of these vloggers that’s hard to comprehend. Amongst the top vloggers, 2-3 million is an average number of views per video. That is as many as a top BBC show such as The One Show, or The Apprentice You’re Fired.

The Advertising Standards Authority has today reissued a warning to these vloggers that they must make it clear if they have been paid to promote a brand or product.

In June, the BBC noticed that a group of UK vloggers were paid to promote Oreo biscuits, but none of the videos were clearly labelled as adverts. A BBC Newsround journalist complained to the ASA that it was unclear to viewers that the videos were marketing communications.

The vloggers in question were Phil Lester and Dan Howell as well as Emma Blackery and Luke Cutforth.

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Lynsay Taffe from the ASA told the BBC’s Newsround: “Brands and vloggers now have to make it very clear, before you click on a video, that it’s a promotional video.”

That means if a vlogger is paid to promote a product, they need to put something like the word “ad” or “promo” in the title of their video – or use a symbol in the thumbnail telling viewers what they’re about to click on is an advert.

The ASA website states: “Mondelez UK Ltd who manufacture Oreo biscuits said that they had not intended to mislead consumers. They stated that the vloggers had been engaged to create ads on behalf of Oreo, that each was paid and provided with the product for use in the video.”

Although each blogger did state that they were asked to create the video on behalf of Oreo, it was not clear enough before watching the video that there had been a financial agreement.

You can read the full ruling here on the ASA website.

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