Great Britain

Chloe Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh first to be named by watchdog for failing to disclose ads

CHLOE Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh have been the first to be named by the advertising watchdog for failing to disclose ads. 

The names of the four influencers have been listed on a new dedicated page on the Advertising Standards Authority’s website for “routinely failing to clearly disclose when they are advertising to consumers on their social media channels”. 

It comes as the regulator escalates enforcement action against influencers who do not make it clear to followers when they have received payment for a post, despite being put on notice.

The four women would remain on the list for three months and would be subjected to enhanced spot checks by the ASA’s monitoring teams throughout this period.

Other brands and influencers would be added to the list if they exhibited the same kind of behaviour, the ASA has warned.

Back in March, the watchdog revealed it had been monitoring the Instagram accounts of 122 UK-based influencers.

In doing so, it found its rules around ad disclosure were being followed just 35% of the time.

Ferry, Khan, Marsh and Mecklenburgh had been contacted by the ASA’s compliance team, and asked to provide an assurance that they would include clear and upfront ad labels in their advertising posts.

All four either failed to provide such an assurance in the first instance or subsequently reneged on it.

The ASA said it could go further to discipline the influencers, should inclusion on the new web page fail to work.

If this were the case, the organisation would look at taking out ads naming influencers, working with social media platforms to have their content removed or referring them to statutory bodies for possible fines.

Last month, Geordie Shore's Ferry, 25, was one of three reality TV stars reprimanded by the ASA for promoting debt advice service Debt Slayers without revealing that she was being paid.

Ferry was joined by Helen Briggs, also 25, from Ex on the Beach, and Towie’s Myles Barnett, 27, in being paid to post ads to millions of followers offering to cut debt by up to 85 per cent.

The stars were likely to have made thousands of pounds from posts promising to cut debt by as much as 85 per cent.

But the ads have been slammed by the ASA as being misleading and not clearly labelled.

They would have seen followers take the drastic step of signing up for an alternative to bankruptcy — with potentially damaging long-term financial implications.

One debt counsellor said: said: “Given the nature of reality television and social media, the vast majority of the people who would have seen these ads are in their mid-teens to mid-20s.

“They are exactly the kind of people who suffered the most in the last year when cafés, pubs and nightclubs had to close.

“So this is a cynical attempt to make money from those who have got the least and who need the most help. It’s a disgrace.”

The ASA banned posts on television personality Marsh's Instagram account in May, after she included unauthorised health claims about food supplements, which were not clearly marked as ads.

The ASA said former Celebrity Big Brother star Khan and former Towie star Mecklenburgh were included in the list after they were found to have broken advertising rules during the monitoring project.

The regulator did not issue any formal rulings in relation to either personality.

However, the ASA said both had subsequently continued to break the rules and had been issued with a warning or an informal ruling.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: "We prefer to work with influencers and brands to help them stick to the rules, but the first influencers to be named on this list have been given every opportunity to treat people fairly about their ads.

"It's not difficult: be upfront and clear when posts and stories are ads. If this doesn't bring about the changes we expect, we won't hesitate to consider further sanctions."

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