Blog: Mars escapes censure over Twitter Snickers ads

Michelle Russell | 7 March 2012

Mars has escaped having its knuckles rapped by the UK's advertising watchdog over marketing Tweets made by reality TV star Katie Price and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand.

The confectionery giant almost found itself in hot water when a series of two tweets were posted on the networking site in January that baffled some in the Twittersphere.

Posts such as "Chinese leaders now likely to loosen monetary policy to stimulate growth. Yay!!" and "OMG!! Eurozone debt problems can only be properly solved by true fiscal union!!! #comonguys", appeared from Price.

In his tweets, Ferdinand chose to shout about his penchant for knitting. "Really getting into the knitting!!! Helps me relax after high-pressure world of the Premiership", "Can't wait 2 get home from training and finish that cardigan".

Both raised Tweeters' eyebrows and resulted in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) being called in after complaints challenged whether the postings could be clearly identified as adverts.

While the ASA insisted that each Tweet formed part of an "orchestrated advertising campaign", it accepted Mars' use of Twitter and cleared both ads.

This was an unusually liberal stance from a normally hard-line ASA, and effectively suggests that sponsored tweets don't need to be labelled as such.

But given that Twitter doesn't get paid when celebrities promote brands in this way, if this clearance now paves the way for many more paid-for promoted tweets that bypass Twitter's coffers altogether, how long before the networking giant steps in to claim its piece of the pie?


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