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BEFORE AND AFTER THE LICK RACE: WHAT THE LATEST ASA RULING MEANS FOR BRANDS AND VLOGGERS

27th November 2014

Yesterday here at Alfred, we woke up to news that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s advertising watchdog, had ruled that video bloggers – or “vloggers” – must make it clear when they are being paid to promote a product, or risk their videos being banned.

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Photo by jonsson / CC BY

The ruling came off the back of a single complaint, made by a BBC journalist, about a series of YouTube videos uploaded in June this year in which vloggers took part in an Oreo “Lick Race”: a competition to see how quickly they can lick the cream off an Oreo biscuit. The trouble with these videos, as far as the ASA is concerned, is that they contained a number of references to Oreo and other Lick Race videoswithout making it abundantly clear that the vloggers had been paid to put them together.

So, what does this mean for brands and vloggers?

As with all new rulings, the specifics are still unclear, but it means that YouTubers must now take steps to make viewers aware that a particular piece is a paid for advert before the user is engaged in the content.

Luckily, as a YouTuber, there are a few options that you can take on board to ensure this is done correctly:

  • Option 1: State at the top of the video description that you’re being paid by a brand to promote their product… and be sure this is right at the top! In order for the ASA to deem this step as acceptable, viewers must be able to view the disclaimer in the description without scrolling down or having to roll out the full text. A simple “This is a paid for advert” will do
  • Option 2: Include a text caption at the start of the video that lets viewers know that the piece is a paid for advert. Again, just writing “This is a paid for advert” will suffice
  • Option 3: Add an audio disclaimer at the beginning of the video making it clear that the brand you’re promoting has paid you to do so
  • Option 4: Include the words “advert” or “promo” in the video title… this isn’t dissimilar to existing rules for social media platforms including Twitter and Tumblr, where users posting any paid for content must add a hashtag such as #AD or #SPON

Again, as this is a new ruling, the ASA doesn’t specify whether you must take just one, more, or all of the above steps to avoid your video being banned. But as the YouTubers affected by this ruling are already showing, it’s certainly better to be safe than sorry until clearer measures are announced.

We will of course keep you posted as the story develops!