Alpro failed to identify tweet as advertising material, ASA finds

Alpro failed to identify tweet as advertising material, ASA finds

The UK's advertising standards watchdog has rebuked WhiteWave Foods-owned dairy-free brand Alpro over a promotional tweet issued by television presenter AJ Odudu. 

Odudu, who co-presents Channel 5 reality TV show spin-off Big Brother's Bit on the Side, tweeted: "FAVE summer snack vibes @Alpro_UK … #Alpro #GoOn". The tweet did not denote itself as an advertisement through the inclusion of an identifier such as "#ad". 

A complaint was made to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, suggesting that the advert failed to identify itself as paid-for promotional material. Alpro responded by stating that it believed the advert to fall outside the CAP advertising standards code. 

The ASA said that to determine whether the tweet was defined as advertising or editorial content – which is not covered by the ad code – depended on two factors: whether Odudu was paid for the tweet and whether Alpro had control over what the tweet said. 

"Alpro and Ms Odudu had entered a financial agreement whereby Ms Odudu took part in a campaign to launch Alpro Go On. This involved a range of activities over a three-month period, including a requirement that she publish a specified number of social media posts, for example on Twitter, during a specified timeframe. The contract stipulated that Alpro's agency would provide Ms Odudu with key messaging and that Ms Odudu would draft the posts herself so that they would be in her own tone," the ASA noted in its ruling. 

"We concluded that various aspects of the contractual agreement between Alpro and Ms Odudu established that Alpro had sufficient control over the content of the tweet, in conjunction with a payment arrangement, for it to be considered a marketing communication falling within the remit of the CAP Code."

The watchdog therefore concluded the tweet breached the CAP code. The ASA said the ad must not appear in its current form again and cautioned Alpro to ensure similar breaches of the code are avoided in the future. "We welcomed Alpro's willingness to ensure that in future any similar ads would be clearly identified as such," the ASA said.