Everyone’s favourite advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, is firmly stamping down on ‘unacceptable’ uses of Twitter an advertising platform. Tepid on the heels of a ban on Nike’s Make it Count campaign for failing to use the #ad hashtag in shoe-related tweets, the ASA has come down hard on those ‘actors’ from The Only Way is Essex, or TOWIE if you like.
Love it or physically want to beat yourself unconscious rather than endure one second of it, TOWIE is pretty popular. Said popularity has led to the ASA looking very closely at the tweets of a certain Gemma Collins.
Miss Collins has recently had her hair cut at hairdresser chain Toni & Guy. In two tweets deemed ‘marketing communications’, she enthused about how great her hair looked after a visit, followed by the below offering a 10% discount off a cut for anyone coming to the Lakeside shopping centre and mentioning her name. Truly a case of ‘not what you know…’.
As in Nike’s case, this is another questionable decision by the ASA. The very fact the tweet contains the mention of a ‘10% discount’ makes it pretty darn clear this is a marketing related statement. As one needs to mention Miss Collins’ name to get an equally ‘amazeballs’ haircut is also a clear indication this is marketing related. Do we really need a #ad in there as well? That would be three indicators of an ad in 140 – on top of the fact she’s a goddamn reality TV star.
If Collins was to include a #ad or similar, it’s likely this would cause, rather than clear up, confusion regarding the nature of the tweet. I’m hedging a guess the majority of her follows could deduce the promotional nature of the above tweet, but how many of them will instantly link #ad with advertising? It seems more likely they’d assume it’s to do with the programme in some way, or encouraging people to ‘add’ (follow) Toni & Guy. It’s not clear cut anyway (and just to avoid any confusion, that last sentence should be followed by #PunIntended).
Poor Toni & Guy has been somewhat singled out here as an example of the ASA’s increasingly zero tolerance stance. According to a source, Collins made the appointment herself and the tweet idea was a “spur of the moment” one. They also believed “the reference to a discount was clear evidence they were marketing communications”, according to The Guardian.
You can see their point.
Compare it to other TOWIE stars, for example Lauren Pope, and the picture gets more murky than the water in a fake tan soiled shower basin. Pope openly asked Virgin Airways on Twitter for free flights in exchange for “some twitter shout outs and PR”, says the Mail. Now, when one is blatantly presenting oneself in such a fashion, do we really need constant reminders of their habit of exchanging cash for product endorsements?
The ASA rulings need a bit of work on consistency, and consideration for users’ common sense, before being fully effective.