Date Posted: Monday 11th March 2019
Following our industry codes of conduct outlining The Influencer’s Guide by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), we caught up with fashion blogger and journalist, Katherine Ormerod from Work Work Work, to find out what she thought about the new guidelines.
Print Vs. Online
"In general, I am all for transparency - in fact, since leaving magazines and working as an influencer it's become key to my personal USP. However, I think like a lot of former journalists who now work in the social space, the new ASA guidelines have made me really scratch my head. There’s a serious level of hypocrisy to holding young entrepreneurs - many of whom would never have been able to break into the privileged world of traditional publishing - to higher standards than those working on magazines and newspapers in this country.
"Anyone who has worked on any publication will know that the press trips, breakfasts, dinners and product launch goody bags are part and parcel of pretty much every magazine job. The entire PR industry operates through this system of quid pro quo or #gifts - it’s often the only way they can get emerging brands with small budgets through the door. We all know that lots of magazines will only shoot labels which have paid for advertising pages that season, or at least will heavily favour the products from those brands on editorial pages - with absolutely no disclosure whatsoever. So why are influencers being instructed to disclose their historical relationships with brands and the hospitality and gifts they’ve received when traditional advertisers can so consistently blend editorial and advertorial content?"
"The sad thing is that the ASA really had the chance to draw a line in the sand for the most important issue: influencers failing to disclose when they are being paid. The vagueness of the guidelines and the level to which they are open to interpretation will mean that actual ads will continue to be presented as organic content. It should be illegal to engage in commercial activity with a brand without disclosing it, but instead, the ASA has decided to muddy the waters by focusing on influencers engaging in the standard practice of gifting which goes on in magazines, tv and film."
One Rule For All
"Another huge issue is that it seems only those self-defining as ‘influencers’ must be held to account. Not those models, actresses, editors or socialites who happen to have social media influence. I 100% receive less gifts now than when I was at a magazine. I am 100% more able to disclose when a brand has paid for something as an influencer than I was as an editor. Now we have a situation where influencers and editors can go on the same brand trip and be gifted the same products, but the editors can post on social media and include in print without any disclosure, while the ‘influencers’ must do so. It can only be ONE rule for all—otherwise, nothing will stand up in court and the few individuals wilfully misleading their audiences will continue to get away with it. Everyone should be held to the same standards, certainly not just the often young women who have disrupted decades-old institutions to build such compelling platforms for brands to advertise their products on."
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