There has been a great deal of discussion in the US about the need for, and manner of, disclosure in tweets by celebrities and others that are paid for in some fashion by advertisers.  Not surprisingly, the British are wrestling with the same issue as evidenced by the discussion below of a recent decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which is a self-regulatory body that adjudicates complaints against advertisements brought by competitors and others on the basis of the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP).

A complaint was brought in respect of two tweets for Nike posted in January 2012 on the official Twitter accounts of the Nike sponsored footballers, Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere.  The complainant queried whether the tweets were, as required by the CAP Code, obviously identifiable as marketing communications.  The tweets read “My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion…#makeitcount” (for Wayne Rooney) and “In 2012, I will come back for my club – and be ready for my country.” /Makeitcount” (for Jack Wilshere).

Despite the use of the Nike URL and campaign strap line, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) thought that the use of ‘Nike’ was not sufficiently prominent and that consumers would not have been aware of Nike’s “make it count” campaign.  The ASA therefore decided that “there was nothing obvious in the tweets to indicate that they were Nike marketing communications”.   The ASA therefore upheld the complaint.

Take away tip:  It is important that a marketing communication is obviously identifiable as such.  The ASA suggested that the inclusion of “#ad” may be a suitable indicator to ensure that tweets are obviously identifiable as marketing communications.

For the full ASA adjudication click here.