Those pesky do-gooders at the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency, have stuck their nose into paid product promotions on YouTube after a handful of well-known vloggers put up videos for Oreo cookies.
Despite telling viewers that the videos were made possible by Oreo and that the firm had supplied the biscuits, which to any viewer with half a brain would imply a commercial relationship between the two, the ASA says that’s not enough for dumb viewers who must be explicitly told – probably in all caps – that THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT.
Their adjudication – we hesitate to call it a ruling, since the ASA itself lacks any legal power to compel publishers or advertisers to comply – states: “the commercial intent would have needed to be made clear” and “the fact that the videos were marketing communications would not be immediately clear from the style alone“.
Mindbogglingly, the ASA wants the disclaimer right up front too, saying: “even had the disclosure statements been of a type that made the nature of the video clear, the fact that they would only be heard at the end of the videos or seen after consumer interaction with the video description, meant that they would have been insufficient to render the ads obviously identifiable as marketing communications”
One imagines that the ASA watching any recent blockbuster film (a recent Bond perhaps or the impending Jurassic World?) would also find the overt inclusion of promotional brands – Ford, Sony Samsung for starters – not clearly identifiable as advertising either; perhaps they’d like to superimpose “THIS IS AN ADVERT” over the bottom of the movie screen at the appropriate juncture too?
We at Tubeshooter think the audience for the online videos cited is rather more streetwise and aware than the ASA gives them credit for and is perfectly aware that the promotion would have resulted in commercial reward for the YouTube Creators.
Frankly, the ASA – and that other self-appointed bunch of busybodies, ATVOD – should get well out of Internet video since they clearly don’t understand it, the audience or give anyone watching any credit.
Meanwhile, if reading this has made you peckish for a pack of Oreos, here’s a link to buy some via Amazon, for which we get a few pence commission http://amzn.to/1vhCPSC and that helps us keep this site running.