Sports fashion retailer JD Sports has become the latest brand to face the iron fist of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an Instagram post to internet celebrity KSI’s feed that failed to be obviously identified as an ad.
The popular influencer posted a video to his Instagram account which was sponsored by JD Sports promoting its ‘King of the Game’ campaign and the launch of the JD Arcade.
The video was captioned “Welcome to the JD Arcade [devil emoji] Head over to the @jdofficial YouTube channel to watch the full length film #kingofthegame”. The post tagged “jdofficial” and “@adidasoriginals”.
Ad label inclusion on Instagram
A complainant argued that the post was not clearly identifiable as “marketing communication” and the ASA ruled in the complainant’s favour, citing the lack of #ad in the caption.
JD Sports, which confirmed that KSI had entered into a contract to post ads on its behalf, said it understood that the inclusion of ad labels was only required if the content was not already obviously sponsored.
As the post’s caption directed viewers to the JD YouTube channel and referred to a “full length version” available there, as well as the video featuring over 28 celebrities, JD Sports believed viewers would recognise it as part of an advertising campaign.
The video itself had already achieved wide reach as part of its prior appearance as a paid-for ad in other media, including in TV spots and as a billboard.
“Consumers should be immediately made aware”
The ASA ruled against KSI and JD Sports as the post failed to make it clear that it was marketing content right away, determining “that consumers should be immediately made aware that a post was an ad”.
Although the caption and the video featured some elements that might have made some consumers consider it sponsored content, the commercial intent behind the post wasn’t made clear upfront and therefore violated the CAP Code.
As a result of the ruling, the ad must not appear again in the form complained of and future ads as part of JD Sports’ collaboration with KSI need to be more upfront about their commercial intent, for example by including #ad in the caption.