Adverting should be recognizable as such. This is one of the key
rules of the Dutch Advertising Code. This often goes wrong on
social media: companies recruit consumers or bloggers to advertise,
without it being obvious to the reader or viewer that the purpose
is advertising. The Social Media Advertising Code has counteracted
that since 2014: the payment of influencers must be
apparent. This can be done in various ways, such as adding the
hashtags #ad or #spon. However, sponsoring can also be made
apparent from the text in the message: "I received this
wonderful product from [company name]". So far, so good.
But in practice, this is not always clear. It is also difficult to
prove specifically that a company has actually hired a consumer or
blogger. Take the recent Swiss Sense case, for example. Video
blogger ("vlogger") Mascha Feoktistova was looking for a
new bed at bed store Swiss Sense in her vlog. Shortly after this
vlog, a second video appeared online showing a visit to the Swiss
Sense web shop. In it, the vlogger gave the viewers a discount
code. It was great publicity for Swiss Sense, of course, which then
embedded both blogs onto its website. A complaint with the
Advertising Code Committee soon followed: isn't there an #ad or
#spon missing here? Swiss Sense did not think so: the vlogger may
have received a discount on her bed, but not until after the first
vlog was made. The ACC did not accept that. A conclusion was easy
to draw for the second vlog: Swiss Sense had already given the
vlogger a discount, but the vlog did not indicate anything about
it. That is definitely not allowed. The case of the first vlog is
more nuanced: the discount was offered after the vlog was
made. But it is unclear whether the video was already online
at that point. Swiss Sense was charged with this lack of clarity:
in this situation, the ACC had reason to suspect sponsoring at the
time the vlog was put online. Swiss Sense had to be more specific
and convincing if this was not the case. This is important news for
advertisers who want to hire influencers on social media
without making it clear: simply suggesting that the
influencer is not being paid is not always sufficient,
even if there is no concrete evidence of payment or gifts. So be
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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