UK advertising watchdog: Twitter promotion by Nike should be banned for lack of transparency

UK advertising watchdog: Twitter promotion by Nike should be banned for lack of transparency

Just when celebrities thought it was safe again to tweet about the companies that sponsor them, UK advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) steps in and says “No.”

In January, we told you about what came to be known as “Snickers-gate”, which was a situation that the ASA caused when it found celebs tweeting about Snickers without divulging that it was an advertisement. This “ruling” was later reversed.

According to The Guardian, the ASA is at it again, and Nike is the company drawing its ire this time.

According to the ASA, tweets by soccer players Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere weren’t properly tagged as being ads. In other words, the organization is calling foul on Nike. Here’s what the ASA had to say:

We considered that the Nike reference was not prominent and could be missed. We considered there was nothing obvious in the tweets to indicate they were Nike marketing communications.

You be the judge:

It looks like a Nike-sponsored advertisement to me. I’m not sure what being banned by the ASA actually means, but it seems like a real pain in the ass for Nike.

Here’s how the organization describes itself:

The ASA is here to make sure all advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful.

We are independent of both the Government and the advertising industry and we are recognised by the Government, the courts and other regulators such as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Ofcom as the body to deal with complaints about advertising.

I’m all about watching out for consumers and their best interests, but I think that the ASA is barking up the wrong tree on this one. It’ll be interested to see how tweets become more of a “product placement” for brands, like we see in TV shows.

Not to mention that we’re currently going through a transformation where anybody can be a “celebrity” at any given moment. Hard stuff to police, indeed.

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