A Twitter campaign by global sportswear brand Nike has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog.
In the first action to be taken regarding a Twitter-based campaign, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reprimanded Nike after it received a complaint about two tweets posted earlier in the year by two Premiership footballers.
The offending tweets were originally posted in January by Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who has close to 4.8 million followers, and Jack Wilshire of Arsenal, who had around 1.3 million followers before he suspended his account two weeks ago over an unrelated incident. The two players, who have personal sponsorship deals with Nike, posted the tweets on their personal Twitter accounts at the request of the brand.
The ASA said that the tweets were ruled as unacceptable as they were not clearly “identifiable as marketing communications”. Although the tweets featured a #makeitcount hashtag, which is a marketing slogan used by Nike throughout its campaigns, ASA argued that this would not be immediately obvious to all of the footballers’ followers.
ASA spokesman Matt Wilson told the BBC: “This is relatively new territory for us as a regulator. People are experimenting and using Twitter to reach consumers, but the same advertising rules apply. It’s an ongoing process and this illustrates the care firms must take.”
It has been suggested that firms should include an #ad hashtag for promotional tweets in future, to make it absolutely clear when a tweet has been in some way paid for, in order to avoid similar confusion and sanctions.
This is a landmark ruling by the ASA; as the spokesman said himself, monitoring of social networks is a new development, and one that is still in its infancy. However, now the precedent has been set, and we could see more action being taken towards Twitter campaigns in the future, so it is important to always monitor social media activity and ensure it is clear when marketing material is being published.