Stars of Geordie Shore and The Only Way Is Essex are among a handful of influencers called out by the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to disclose ads on their social media.
Chloe Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh were named as the biggest offenders following an Influencer Monitoring Report, which examined levels of ad disclosure on Instagram through 122 UK-based accounts.
The ASA discovered inconsistent disclosure through Stories, posts and Reels, with the rules being followed (when posts were clearly signposted as ads) only 35% of the time.
Ferry, best known for being a cast member of the MTV reality series Geordie Shore, has 3.7 million Instagram followers. She has been contacted by the ASA compliance team and asked to provide assurance she would provide clear and upfront ad labels in her advertising posts.
The watchdog also contacted The X Factor reject Khan, who has 2.1 million followers on the platform, bodybuilder Marsh (442,000) and TOWIE star Mecklenburgh (1.7 million). All four individuals either failed to provide that assurance in the first instance or subsequently reneged on it.
The report was released in March; now, the ASA has launched a non-compliance webpage naming the worst offenders.
Those named will be featured on the webpage for three months and subject to a period of enhanced monitoring spot checks. Other influencers who repeatedly break the rules will be added over time.
If those named influencers continue to break the rules around non-disclosure, further sanctions could include taking out ads against them, working with social-media platforms to have their content removed or referring them to statutory bodies for possible fines. The ASA is also looking to take action against brands that repeatedly fail to disclose ads or do not provide assurances they will properly label ads in future.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “We prefer to work with influencers and brands to help them stick to the rules, but the first influencers to be named on this list have been given every opportunity to treat people fairly about their ads. It’s not difficult: be upfront and clear when posts and Stories are ads. If this doesn’t bring about the changes we expect, we won’t hesitate to consider further sanctions.”