The Memo: Influencer Grace Beverley breaks UK advertising rules

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Influencer Grace Beverley breaks UK advertising rules

Emily Dunham - 3 June 2024

If you’vspent time scrolling on TikTok, chances are you’ll remember last year's ‘lashlighting’ scandal involving US TikToker Mikayla Nogueira, who allegedly used false lashes to show the after effect of a mascara she was promoting. Moments such as this have meant that the legitimacy of influencer reviews has become a common topic of discussion on the platformHowever, while the video was controversial, there was no question as to whether it was an advert as she had included a ‘L'Oréal Paris Partner’ label. 

Meanwhile, the topic at hand concerns advertising rules in the UK, particularly when it comes to influencer advertising and the disclosure of promotional material. Any social media regular will have seen posts labelled ‘#ad’ while scrolling through the app, and it’s this sort of proper disclosure that’s monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In recent years, the watchdog has kept a close eye on social media advertising as influencers don’t always follow the rules around disclosing ads and paid partnerships with brands. 

Influencer and entrepreneur, Grace Beverley, created activewear brand Tala in 2019. In late 2023, she shared six posts promoting her brand. She was then called out by another TikTok user, Alice Bull, for poor advertising practice as she did not disclose the fact that she owned the brand and that the posts were ads. Bull was then allegedly threatened with a defamation lawsuit in response. It wasn’t just Bull who had something to say about Beverley’s postshowever, as the ASA said that it received more than 50 complaints about the lack of clear ad labelling on her posts 

Tala claimed that the context of the video made Beverley’s connection to the brand clear. Both Beverley and Tala also argued that she is supposedly synonymous” with the business meaning that her following would understand the connection, but the ASA did not agree. The watchdog found that Beverley’s posts were not obviously identifiable as ads so breached the rules. It said that social media users who saw Beverley’s videos online but did not follow her would not have a clear understanding of her connection to the brandTherefore, individual users would not naturally be able to make the connection between Beverley and Tala, so the justifications indicated by the brand “did not amount to sufficient disclosure for individual ads.” The ASA told Grace and her brand that the removed ads must not appear again, and that all future content of this nature should be clearly labelled to make it “obviously identifiable” as an advert. If she fails to follow its guidance, the ASA could take further action, though there are no legal sanctions for this behaviour. 

Many have described this as a landmark decision by the ASA as it has set a precedent for individuals promoting their own brands. However, Beverley isn’t the first influencer to be in trouble with the watchdog; Love Island star and YouTuber Molly-Mae Hague has previously been criticised for failing to make it clear on three different occasions that her content was promoting a product. The ASA also has a webpage for repeat offenders who fail to follow rules despite warnings, and another Love Island-er, Tashi Ghouri, was recently added to the list for regularly posting adverts without correctly labelling them. In such cases, the ASA might also take out their own adverts against influencers on Instagram to alert users to their failure to follow the rules. 

So, enjoy your scrolling but watch out for adswhether they’re disclosed with hashtags and labels, or not!