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Brands should “take responsibility” says promotions advisor following ASA ruling

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) upheld complaints against Global Brands this week, asserting that an ad by influencer Danielle Walsh for Global Brands-owned VK encouraged “excessive consumption of alcohol”, and did not clearly identify itself as an ad.
The video, originally posted to Walsh’s TikTok account in October, showed Walsh creating and consuming cocktails for ‘pre-drinks’, leading the ASA to rule that the video promoted excessive drinking. The agency also concluded that the video did not obviously state that it was an advert. 
Although VK did not pay Walsh for the content, the ASA ruled that the drinks supplied to Walsh in exchange for promoting them on her account constituted a payment. VK also requested approval of the videos before they were posted, leading ASA to assess that the brand had editorial control of the post and therefore held responsibility for the content. 
Commenting on the ruling, Petra Green, head of legal at global prize promotions agency PromoVeritas, said that VK and Global Brands were “ultimately responsible” for the video, not Walsh. Green provides specialist advice to brands running legally-compliant prize promotions and collaborations with influencers.
She stated: “This ruling against Global Brands and influencer Danielle Walsh is yet another example of the ASA taking no prisoners. Brands and influencers alike need to take responsibility for all marketing communications even where the influencer has not been paid but rather, as in this case, provided with the brand’s product. 
“Although the brand is trying to lay the blame at the door of the influencer, the brand is ultimately responsible. This ruling should serve as a reminder to brands to ensure that when they work with influencers that they do so in a manner that will not get them on the wrong side of an ASA ruling.”
According to the ASA’s report, VK said that it had not received the video for approval before Walsh posted it to her account. The brand also said that it had asked Walsh’s agent to take the post down several times but had not received a response. 
Walsh took the video down from TikTok for the duration of the investigation. The ASA has stipulated that the video must not appear again in the same form.

13 March 2024 - Lucy Schofield