Business development · 15 May 2018

Influencer ignorance strikes again with Geordie Shore stars under ad scrutiny

Advertising watchdog opens investigation into Geordie Shore stars over social media gambling adverts.

Three Geordie Shore stars are being investigated by the UK’s advertising watchdog for apparently promoting gambling websites.

Former Geordie Shore cast members Gary Beadle, Scott Timlin and Aaron Chalmers have been pulled up on their social media posts for not stating they were adverts.

The Advertising Standards Authority said this was a potential breach of advertising rules.

The posts were advertising appealing odds on sports fixtures which included links to popular betting websites< Coral and Ladbrokes – without declaring they were endorsed adverts. The star’s 15.3 million combined followers were encouraged to sign up to the gambling sites where new customers would be lured by free bets. In this case, the problematic posts were posted on Twitter by all three of the lads. [caption id="attachment_25485" align="alignright" width="624"] The tweets which caused a stir with advertising watchdog ASA.[/caption]

Ladbrokes Coral has since confirmed the Northern socialites are “affiliates” with the brand who are paid on a commission basis.

They cash in when fans sign up to a betting account after following the link from their social media sites.

Ladbrokes Coral said: “Ladbrokes Coral has what is a very standard affiliate relationship with these celebrities, and which is compliant with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and CAP [Committees of Advertising Practice] rules governing this activity.”

The business and online influencer combination is nothing to the digital age, and it is also permitted and accepted to be a large but or brand awareness nowadays.

But, celebrities must imply that it is an advert and follow the strict rules around gambling advertisement.

Although it is also common that celebrities try to dodge advertisement recognition by playing it down and hoping their following won’t notice by including hashtags like #sp, #spon and #ad at the very end of their posts.

Beadle, Timlin, and Chalmers have not responded to requests for comment.

The ASA told BBC Radio 5 live it was investigating and would be contacting the advertisers and brands behind the offers that the three have posted about.

Commenting on this, an ASA spokesperson said: “The issue is high up on our agenda. Protecting young and vulnerable people from inappropriately targeted or irresponsible gambling ads is a priority.”

The ASA also said that Beadle had been previously warned about similar breaches of regulations which he had committed via social media and he had agreed to make adverts clearer in the future.

“We closed the case informally but will not hesitate to take further, more formal, action if the problem persists,” added the spokesperson.

Gambling charity GambleAware’s chief executive, Marc Etches said: “Problem gambling and gambling-related harm is a serious public health issue that affects millions of people each year.

“Stars who care about their fans need to recognise that they too have a responsibility to ensure everyone understands the risks associated with gambling.

“We are concerned about the normalisation of gambling for children and young people who are increasingly exposed to gambling around live sport, on TV and via their mobiles.”

What does the law say?

In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the body responsible for guaranteeing transparency in marketing practices. According to its guidance on influencer marketing, using a clear identifier, such as “#ad”, alerts consumers to the commercial nature of a post.

It states: “Consumers should always be aware when they are being advertised to. Failure to disclose the commercial relationship an influencer may leave a brand at risk of a complaint to the ASA.”

If an influencer has presented a brand in an authentic way, it is not considered advertising.

“However when the brand has control over the content of the post and rewards the influencer with a payment, free gift, or other perk, the post becomes an ad.”

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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.