Marketer urges brands to be ‘transparent’, after Ad Standards finds second influencer breached code of ethics

An influencer post featuring a product by Tom Ford fragrances has been found to breach the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code of Ethics.

Influencer Rozalia Russian posted the image of a hand holding a bottle of Tom Ford Soleil Blanc with the text ‘summer in a bottle @tomfordbeauty’.

After the image was posted, a complaint was lodged to Ad Standards, claiming the post was ‘clearly’ a paid advertisement without clear acknowledgement of the sponsorship arrangement.

The Ad Standards community panel determined the post was an ad, and therefore breached the regulator’s distinguishable advertising rule.

Melissa Packham, chief marketing strategist at A Brand Is Not A Logo, says the panel’s decision shows how vital it is that businesses ensure their influencers are following the rules and being transparent about paid arrangements.

“It comes down to being an ethical marketer,” Packham says.

“It’s always my advice to clients to include transparency around the nature of the relationship with the partner.”

The decision marks the second instance an influencer’s post has been found to breach the regulator’s code of ethics.

Two weeks ago, an Instagram post by former Bachelor winner and influencer Anna Heinrich featuring a Runaway The Label product was also found to have breached the code.

Section 2.7 of the code, which was updated in February to include the distinguishable rule, states that advertising and marketing must be ‘clearly distinguishable’ through the use of hashtags such as #ad, #advert or #paidpartnership.

Packham says she is surprised it has taken advertising regulators so long to better regulate the influencer marketing movement, given the amount of money that’s being made online.

“Anyone can be an influencer, so the onus is definitely on brands to make sure they are aligning with codes and regulation around advertising for the protection of the consumers,” she says.

AANA’s code of ethics is part of a self-regulating system, which means that compliance with the code is voluntary.

SmartCompany has contacted Tom Ford and Rozalia Russian’s agency for comment.

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