Ireland’s advertising watchdog is cracking down on influencers’ photoshopped imagery. The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland “(ASAI”) made headlines early this year when it announced that it would introduce new guidance “aimed at ensuring Irish consumers are not misled by influencer marketing through online advertisements on blogs and social media websites,” or by advertising imagery that is the result of “post-production techniques,” such as photoshop. Now, the watch dog is making good on its word.
In addition to requiring that brands and influencers, alike, disclose when “a celebrity or influencer has been sponsored by a brand or paid directly to promote a product,” the ASAI, in line with the Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Standards in Ireland, also requires that influencers, celebrities, and brands declare if an advertising image has been “manipulated.” Orla Twomey, the CEO of the ASAI stated in January that “it should be declared if the image has been physically altered and this disclaimer should be visible in the promotion material.”
As of this month, the ASAI issued its first finding in connection with the new photoshop disclosure requirement, holding that blogger Rosie Connolly ran afoul of the guideline by posting a “misleading image” in promotion of Rimmel’s “Lasting Finish Breathable” foundation.
According to the ASAI’s Complaints Committee, the decision – which is “the first time a complaint about an influencer/blogger has been upheld” – comes in response to a consumer complaint that Connolly’s face appeared “photo-shopped and filtered.” The party who filed the complaint “considered that people may purchase the Rimmel foundation thinking they would achieve the same results if they used the product but as the image had been altered this would not be the case,” the ASAI stated on Tuesday.
Connolly, who has 192,000 followers on Instagram, responded to the ASAI’s investigation, stating that Rimmel had approved the images, and thus, was the more appropriate party to target with a complaint. A representative for the London-based cosmetics brand acknowledged that the image had been filtered using a built-in camera feature and argued that this practice was covered by ASAI guidelines. The Coty-owned company agreed, however, to discontinue use of the image.
Ms. Twomey says that complaints involving influencer-posted content have increased in the past year. "In the last two-and-a-half years, we have been doing a lot of outreach in this area with bloggers and brands and disclosing when a post is a marketing communication and generally complying with the code," she says.