The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that the June video from Canham, who has almost 700,000 followers on TikTok, was not “obviously identifiable as an ad”.
The clip, now deleted, saw the YouTuber using a hairdryer and straighteners from GHD, with the caption saying that there was a 20% off deal available for “today only” on the brand’s website when using the code “EMILY”.
In a contract supplied to the ASA by GHD, Canham was initially required to produce several social media posts while attending a music festival, until the event was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The contract [was] varied, and Ms Canham’s brief changed to provide a TikTok video on 26 May, a YouTube video with the accompanying promotional discount code “EMILY” across 13 to 14 June, and two Instagram posts across 13 to 14 June.
“[GHD] said the TikTok post-dated 14 June was created without their oversight and approval and did not form part of Ms Canham’s contractual obligations to them, and additionally she had not been compensated for the promotional code featured therein,” the ruling reads.
The watchdog goes on to add that Canham’s agent told them their client had not been paid for uploading the video, and did not receive commission for featuring the promo code in the post.
Despite this, the ASA ruled that the post was an advert due to its links with the final agreed contract.
“Although we acknowledged that Ms Canham’s agent and GHD stated that the post under investigation was not paid for, we noted that the post featured the same promotional code stipulated in the agreement to promote GHD.
“We considered that the promotional code had appeared as part of an exhortation by Ms Canham encouraging consumers to buy GHD’s products, and therefore the commercial nature of the content should have been made clear prior to consumers using the code.
“We assessed the post as it would have appeared in-feed on TikTok and considered that there was nothing in its content, such as “#ad” placed upfront, that made clear to those viewing it that it was an ad,” the regulator said.
The ASA concluded that the ad had breached the code from the Committee from Advertising Practice, with the video banned from appearing online again in its original form.
Update: In a statement provided to BBC News, a spokesperson for the ASA said that although the decision was the regulator’s first ruling on TikTok, “brands, advertisers and influencers should be fully aware that the ad rules apply to them across online and in social media.”
They added: “Our rules place an emphasis on protecting children and, where an audience/followers of an influencer or celebrity are predominantly young people, particular care has to be taken to ensure they are not misled.”
Photo: Emily Canham/YouTube.