Molly-Mae Hague Instagram post banned for breaking ASA rules

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The Guardian

The former Love Island star and social influencer Molly-Mae Hague has had an Instagram post promoting the clothing brand Pretty Little Thing banned for not telling followers it was an advertisement.

The 23-year-old, who has now fallen foul of the UK’s advertising watchdog three times for failing to follow social media marketing rules, posted a picture of herself wearing a Pretty Little Thing (PLT) dress on her Instagram account along with a link to buy it.

Hague, who has a paid role as creative director at the fashion company, also posted: “You can actually shop it now on PLT – couldn’t not make it available for you guys too.”

The Instagram post was not clearly identified as a marketing communication, the ASA said. Photograph: ASA/PA

Under the UK advertising code, promotional posts must clearly indicate they are paid-for endorsements, typically using the hashtag #ad.

The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the Instagram post was commercial because of Hague’s contractual relationship with PLT.

“We noted that the story had appeared in Molly-Mae Hague’s own account and did not contain any indication that it was a marketing communication,” the ASA said.

PLT confirmed Hague’s contractual deal, which includes a requirement to “comply with applicable laws and regulations relating to marketing and advertising”, including using the #ad disclosure “for the avoidance of doubt”.

The ASA said: “We considered that while some of her followers may have known that she was creative director at PLT, it was not immediately clear to all consumers that she had a commercial interest in PLT from the post itself.

“We therefore concluded that the commercial intent behind the story was not made clear and upfront and it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.”

A representative for the social influencer said that she had left the disclosure off the Instagram post, which appeared on Halloween last year, “by mistake” and that it would be used in the future. PLT said it had also reminded Hague of her obligations under marketing rules “to prevent any similar mistakes in the future”.

“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of,” said the ASA.

The ASA has cracked down on social media influencers and their continual flouting of UK marketing rules in recent years.

Last year, the watchdog issued a final warning to 122 UK-based Instagram influencers, putting them on notice that they would face sanctions if they did not stick to rules regarding posts that promote products for brands.

In January, the ASA launched a “name and shame” Instagram campaign after social media stars including Jodie Marsh and five former Love Islanders including Francesca Allen continued to break social media marketing rules.

July 13, 2022 at 09:04PM Mark Sweney

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