Footballer Rio Ferdinand has once again been rapped by the UK’s advertising watchdog for posts on social media, this time with an Instagram post for Qatar Tourism – because the #ad tag was not clearly displayed.
The post at the end of last year – promoting Qatar Tourism’s Visit Qatar website – attracted the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it received a complaint that it was not obviously identifiable as marketing.
Despite the post containing the recognisable #ad moniker, the ad watchdog took issue after observing that “the label appeared at the end of the caption at the bottom of a list of hashtags” – and banned the post from appearing again.
#ad not visible on mobile
The Instagram post featured a video promoting the Visit Qatar website, with the caption “Time spent eating my bodyweight in the kitchen! That’s a wrap for Qatar, been great filming behind the scenes and meeting so many locals!”.
Underneath Ferdinand added “#VisitQatar” and below that “#ad”, but viewers watching the post on a mobile device couldn’t see them without clicking a “more” button.
Ferdinand’s representative said they believed all guidelines had been followed with the presence of #ad, stating they used the label because Instagram had advised them to do so in the past.
But Qatar Tourism conceded that #ad was not prominent enough and that they had liaised with Ferdinand’s representative to amend the post to make the label clearer.
A roll call of hashtags
The watchdog slammed the post, despite it including #ad, stating that “the label appeared at the end of the caption at the bottom of a list of hashtags”.
It concluded that the positioning wasn’t sufficiently prominent to make it clear to users that the post was an ad – reinforcing that mobile users would not have seen the hashtag without clicking a button for “more”. “Because the ad did not make clear upfront its commercial intent, we concluded it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication”, it said.