South Africa

File a complaint if influencer doesn’t disclose a post is sponsored, urges ARB

Motheo Khoaripe interviews Gail Schimmel, CEO of the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB).

– Kim Kardashian has to pay a R22m fine for not revealing she was promoting crypto currencies in an Instagram post

– In South Africa the industry is self-regulated – no fine for a misleading post but it will be removed from social media by the Advertising Regulatory Board

Kim Kardashian has been slapped with a fine of over R22 million ($1.26 million) for failing to disclose she was promoting crypto currencies in an Instagram post.

The über-influencer was apparently paid by crypto firm EthereumMax for the post about its EMAX tokens.

The penalty was imposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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(Click here to read the latest "State of Influencer Marketing Report")

What is the situation with influencers and misleading posts in South Africa?

Motheo Khoaripe interviews Gail Schimmel, CEO of the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB).

Schimmel notes that the social media and influencer sphere is self-regulatory in South Africa, falling under the ARB which is a self-regulating organisation.

The industry got together in about 2019… and we made rules about what influencers need to do… That includes if you have received ANYTHING in return for making a post, whether it's money or something else… we would pull the ad.

Gail Schimmel, CEO – Advertising Regulatory Board

Influencers have to keep all the other rules of the advertising code [as well] – not mislead, not be a censor etcetera. On top of that, they must use 'hashtag ad' or 'hashtag sponsored'…

Gail Schimmel, CEO – Advertising Regulatory Board

Schimmel points out that the ARB is a reactive organisation and can only act when it receives a complaint.

"And we are not getting a lot of complaints at the moment."

She says this could be attributed to the fact that many people aren't aware there are rules and they can complain to the regulatory body.

It is also partly because South Africans have more pressing concerns to worry about.

Whether Kim Kardashian put #ad or not, is just not a South African crisis. We're seeing a lot of complaints about misleading claims around pricing and things like that. People are worried about how to stretch their rands.

Gail Schimmel, CEO – Advertising Regulatory Board

Schimmel is concerned however, about the low number of complaints.

She says when the industry first became regulated influencers supported the move but as time went on there's been a huge drop in those actually using the hashtags that indicate a sponsored post.

"We would welcome complaints because all it takes is a few for people to remember the rules again."

RELATED: LISTEN SA's lacks regulation on child influencers

Only two matters have actually gone to a decision, she says.

One concerned a drinking and driving campaign where the influencer livestreamed while she had allegedly been drinking, and then suddenly the screen cut – viewers thought the woman had died because there was no indication it was a sponsored ad.

In this case the ARB found it had not been necessary to use #ad, because the consumer was not being misled into buying something the influencer was punting. Using the hashtag would also have diluted the impact of the campaign Schimmer says.

In the other case the influencer had misled the public and the ad was pulled.

Schimmer says this did enormous harm to the influencer's reputation.

The whole thing with being an influencer is your public have to trust you, and if you are called out for not being trustworthy it really has an effect on how your public see you.

Gail Schimmel, CEO – Advertising Regulatory Board

People must be smart – they have to think if it is really this influencer giving their genuine opinion or if the person has been paid… And you can tell… The graphics are more professional when they've been paid…

Gail Schimmel, CEO – Advertising Regulatory Board

Click here to access the ARB's complaints page

Scroll up to listen to the full conversation

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : File a complaint if influencer doesn't disclose a post is sponsored, urges ARB

Artmotion S.Africa

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