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CMA Guidelines

The CMA Social Endorsement Guidelines

The Competition and Markets Authority published guidelines recently to ensure that influencers, brands, marketing agents, intermediaries and anyone else involved are aware of consumer protection law when it comes to influencer marketing on social media.

Who are the CMA, ASA and CAP?

  • CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) are a statutory body, they enforce consumer protection legislation and can undertake law enforcement.
  • ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) is the UK’s advertising regulator. They aren’t statutory but can refer people who break their rules to the Trading Standards who can and will enforce law.
  • CAP (Committees of Advertising Practice) are the sister organisation of ASA, they write the Advertising Codes.

What are the guidelines on social endorsements from the CMA? 

Essentially the audience needs to know when an influencer has been paid, incentivised or in anyway rewarded to endorse, promote or review a brand, product or service on social media.

  • Say when you’ve been paid, given or loaned things – this includes free unsolicited gifts. See the definition of payment later on in this article.
  • Be clear about your relationship with a brand or business – if you’re including discount codes, competitions, giveaways or are referencing your own range of products you need to state that the post is a promotion. If you have a past relationship with the brand (including receiving product loans, gifts and/or other incentives), you need to disclose this relationship if it’s been within a reasonable period (one year).
  • Don’t mislead – don’t give the impression that you a) are a consumer when you are acting for your own business purposes or on behalf of a brand or other business, b) bought something yourself that was gifted or given on loan and c) you have used the product or service yourself if you haven’t.

If you have a current/past relationship with a brand featured, have received or been promised any form of payment or other incentive, it should be clearly stated in a transparent and upfront way.

What exactly is meant by…

  • Influencer: bloggers, vloggers, celebrities or social media personalities.
  • Payment: any form of monetary payment, any incentive, reward or commission, the gift or loan of a product or service. They also state “for the avoidance of doubt” that a gift or loan includes the instance where no existing commercial relationship exists, which includes where something has been sent to you for free whether you originally asked for it or not.
  • Post: communication posted on social media platforms including video (for example a post on the main Instagram feed which could be single photo, carousel or video).
  • Product: goods, services or digital content.
  • Promote: links, promotional codes or tagging.
  • Clear disclosure: intelligible, transparent, unambiguous, non- misleading, timely and prominent. Without the need for the consumer to click for more information (before “more” on Instagram), irrespective of the device being used.
  • Recommended labels: disclosure labels that the ASA and CMA advise using because they believe consumers understand them fully. These are ‘Advertisement Feature’, ‘Advertisement Promotion’ or ‘AD’.