The beauty industry faces an ongoing challenge regarding the veracity of the products it sells. Through the power of social media, beauty brands are using influencers to promote their products and adding a dimension of overt authenticity to their advertising.
In an attempt to regulate such practices, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has focused on transparency and required brands to disclose their relationship with the influencer, usually using the hashtag “#ad”. The beauty industry is now facing even tighter regulation as the ASA has restricted certain uses of filters on photos advertising beauty products.
Complaint to ASA:
The ASA’s most recent decision was related to the Skinny Tan brand, which had republished several influencer stories. The complainant believed that the influencer’s use of the social media platform’s filter had exaggerated the effectiveness of the promoted cosmetic tanning product, arguing that the use of ads in this way was misleading to the consumer.
In response, Skinny Tan argued that although they had sent the products to the influencer as a form of collaboration, there was no contractual obligation for the influencer to share the Skinny Tan products on social media and therefore the influencer would not have known the effects of using filters.
The assessment of the ASA:
The ASA understands that such filters are often applied when users share photos. In addition, the ASA found that the influencer’s post contained the text “#ad” and “#gifted”. Still, the ASA felt that using the filter resulted in a noticeably darker skin tone. The effects of the filter were therefore directly relevant to the intended effects of the product and the claimed performance of the product and created a misleading impression about the performance of the product and therefore violated the GAP code rules 3.1 and 3.11.
While the element of transparency in skinny tan was arguably addressed using the hashtag “#ad”, the ASA appears to be taking the accuracy of advertising beauty products very seriously. In addition to using the CAP’s guidelines on beauty and cosmetics, brands must be aware of social media use, not endorse or encourage the use of filters to exaggerate effectiveness, and should aim to present their products in an authentic way.
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