CAP Issues Advice on Marketing Tweets Following the Publishers Clearing House Decision

The Advertising Standards Authority has been grappling on a regular basis with the difficult issue of public recognition of marketing tweets. The Committee of Advertising Practice last week issued further advice on the subject following the ASA’s finding that a tweet by celebrity Keith Chegwin promoting a Publishers Clearing House competition wasn’t obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.

The ASA’s latest adjudication concerned a tweet posted by Keith Chegwin which read: “Just a quickie: Log on to pchprizes.co.uk 4 Your chance 2 win £100k plus Win £2,500 a week 4 life. Have a go X”.

The complaint against PCH was upheld even though the tweet was composed by Chegwin not PCH and linked to PCH’s website which made it clear that Chegwin was acting in a promotional capacity. The ASA considered it was not clear from the tweet itself that KC had a commercial relationship with PCH and therefore it would not be clear to Twitter users that KC was tweeting on PCH’s behalf.

CAP, like the IAB and ISBA in their July 2012 guidance, recommends the use of the #ad hashtag to assist consumers in recognising Twitter marketing communications.

Marketers need to ensure that promotional activity conducted by celebrities on their behalf complies with the CAP Code. Chegwin evidently had “sole editorial control” over the offending tweet, but PCH was still responsible for ensuring compliance. Marketers should review the terms of their contracts with endorsers and ensure they are in a position to exercise control over the endorser’s tweets and other communications on their behalf.


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