Acting on a complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority investigated the post, seen on 7 December. The text of the post read: "@flattummytea 20% off guys!!!! If you've been following me you'll know i used this and I genuinely feel less bloated and a flatter tummy ... oh yessss".
The complainant questions if the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
When approached, Nomad Choice, which owns Flat Tummy Tea, provided a correspondence between Sheikhbeauty and her agent which explained that the influencer must post in accordance with all applicable laws and guidelines.
Nomad Choice has since updated their correspondence to refer explicitly to the requirements of the CAP Code. It also ensured Sheikhbeauty edited her post to include #ad in front of her caption.
Sheikhbeauty did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA concluded that there was a financial agreement between Flat Tummy Tea and Sheikhbeauty, and the control the brand had over the post, qualified the post as marketing communications.
The watchdog also noted that while there were indicators that Sheikhbeauty's post was promotional - the post included the handle @flattummytea and the video showed the influencer holding a selection of the products in such a way that the labelling was clearly visible - it did not consider that the content or context of the post made it clear that it was advertising.
Therefore, in the absence of a clear identifier, such as "#ad", the ASA concluded that the post was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and that it breached the Code. While the ASA released guidance on this point more than a year ago, evidence in May suggested that some brands actively encouraged influencers to flout these.
The ASA ordered that the ad not appear again in its current form. It welcomed the actions Flat Tummy Tea had taken following notification of the complaint and reiterated to both the brand and influencer the responsibility to ensure that all ads were obviously identifiable in future.
This story originally appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign