As you may know, I have a minor obsession with reality TV star and influencer Louise Thompson and her apparent inability to disclose to her followers that she earns what I would imagine is a not inconsiderable living from promoting various products to them. Well, guess what? Naughty Louise has fallen foul of the ASA for breaching the CAP Code once again.
Obviously, this is one of my bugbears and you’ve heard it all before, but that’s the point – she’s been the subject of a complaint to the ASA about non-disclosure before and she doesn’t seem to have learned from it. Honestly, it’s not that difficult. Louise, all you have to do is use those three little characters, #Ad, in your promotional posts and you’ll be complying with UK regulations.
The Instagram story in question showed a video of Louise with a rather oddly shaped pink and white device and an on-screen caption which read, “Obsessed with my glowspin! Swipe up for $100 off using my code ‘louiseglow Swipe up awesome @vanityplanetstore.”
I find it hard, but I can just about forgive the fact that Louise seems to have left out the inverted comma at the end of her discount code, but, lack of punctuation aside, she’s also omitted #Ad and that’s surely unforgiveable for an influencer with 1.1 million Insta followers?
Louise told the ASA that while she understood that she had to add #Ad to her ordinary Instagram posts, she didn’t think that applied to her Instagram stories as well. She also said that Vanity Planet, makers of the Glowspin, hadn’t instructed her to include #Ad or any other qualifier, and anyway she believed her audience would realise she was being paid to promote the Glowspin because she’d included a promotional code.
Really? Does any of that sound plausible? I’m afraid it doesn’t, not to me at least, and it didn’t to the ASA, which concluded that both Louise and Vanity Planet should ensure that in future their ads and affiliate posts are obviously identifiable as marketing communications, for example through the use of a clear identifier such as #Ad.
Will the ruling make a difference to Louise though? I’m beginning to wonder. And I’m also beginning to wonder whether the ASA should be given powers to issue harsher penalties for CAP Code breaches, because a ticking off and some negative PR certainly doesn’t seem to be cutting it with Louise, but that’s the subject of another post.
Mind you, I did learn something else from this ruling, apart from the fact that Louise isn’t very good at making up excuses, which is that Louise was paid a fee to promote the Glowspin, but she had no formal written contract with Vanity Planet. I have to confess I was quite shocked by that. Why would a brand not want to protect its interests with a written contract? I’m not in any way suggesting that Louise can’t be relied on to fulfil a verbal contract, but that’s just not how you do business.
(Incidentally, for those of you who weren’t previously aware of the Glowspin, it’s basically a face polisher; a two-speed spinning brush designed to exfoliate your face and leave it, well, glowing. Go on, add it to your Christmas list now. And I don’t need to append #Ad to that because I have no affiliation whatsoever with the makers of the Glowspin )
To end on an up note, though, I’m sure it won’t have escaped your attention that Louise and long-term boyf Ryan Libbey got engaged last month. I’m genuinely pleased for the photogenic couple and Louise is clearly happy because, as she opened up OK! Magazine, “I’ve been crying solidly for three days. It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life.” Bless!
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador.