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A real ‘Ad-ucation’ – don’t fall foul of advertising laws, make sure you disclose your advertisments.

5th December 2017 by Sam Freeman

Categories: What's New?
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Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” Steuart Henderson Britt

This may well be true, but if you fail to identify it as being an advert then you can find yourself in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Marnie Simpson, from MTV reality show Geordie Shore, uploaded photos of herself with products from two firms that she has business relationships with on Snapchat, is the latest to be found guilty of hidden advertising. Even though it was argued that the majority of her followers would already be aware of her association with the companies in question, and that one of the photos failed to indicate where to buy the product, this was not enough to fall outside the scope of being a hidden advert.

This is not the only instance of well-known individuals being penalised for their social media posts. Mille Mackintosh of Made in Chelsea fame was found to have fallen short of advertisement requirements when posting a video promoting Britvic drink, using the hashtag #sp. The ASA did not believe that the general public would realise that the hashtag stood for sponsored post, and that she was therefore being paid to promote the brand, and so the advertising watchdog intervened.

Whilst the press has focused on celebrities that have fallen foul of this particular aspect of advertising law, its application is by no means restricted to them. Any business that produces ads must ensure that they are easily identifiable as being such, no matter what media they use. Terms such as #ad, advertorial or similar should be used somewhere that is prominent enough to be easily seen by consumers when viewing the material in question.

In a world where trends change at a blink of an eye and social media needs to be posted quickly in order to be relevant, it can be easy to overlook advertising law, especially where certain platforms restrict the number of characters you can post. As the ASA’s recent rulings shows, however, the rules apply to every type of media including the more informal type such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Repeat offenders can be referred to Trading Standards, which has the ability to issue fines.

Advertising, when done well, can transform your business, but poor advertising can ruin it. Make sure that you are noticed for the right reasons.

Please contact Sam Freeman at or on 01202 557256 if you would like any assistance with consumer law or advertising requirements.

Sam Freeman

Partner — Corporate and Commercial

Direct dial: 01202 205024 (please note no voicemail)


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Sam is head of our Corporate and Commercial team and is a vastly experienced corporate lawyer having advised a wide variety of businesses within a range of sectors.

Sam’s particular specialisms include share and assets acquisitions and disposals, company restructures, shareholder agreements and partnerships. Sam enjoys helping people succeed in business regardless of whether the client is a small local set up or a large national organisation. Whatever the concern, Sam provides a calm personable approach to his work ensuring clients are guided in a practical straightforward manner.

Away from work Sam has recently become a dad for the first time, although when the time permits he enjoys playing cricket and pursuing the never ending task of trying to lower his golf handicap.

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