YouTuber, musician and boxer KSI – real name Olajide "JJ" Olatunji – has had an Instagram advert with JD Sports banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after the watchdog found the ad was not “obviously identifiable” as a marketing communication.
Back in November last year, KSI posted a Reel to his Instagram account in which he could be seen with friends playing games in an arcade, with other featured celebrities in the video including Tobi “TBJZL” Brown, Amin “Chunkz” Mohamed and Anthony Joshua.
After Brown approaches JJ asking him “what you got” in terms of footwear, KSI laughs before pointing to a pair of trainers which the video then zooms in on.
The social media video, part of the “King of the Game” promotional campaign for Christmas last year, was a shortened version of longer promotional video on JD Sports’ official YouTube channel, which KSI directed his followers to watch in the post’s caption.
However, the ASA later launched an investigation after a single complaint was made to them questioning if the post was “obviously identifiable” as an advert.
Under the advertising code drawn up by the Committee of Advertising Practice – and enforced by the ASA – marketing communications (including on social media) must be “obviously identifiable as such”.
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ASA guidance for online influencers states social media ads should include a “prominent label” such as #Ad, #Advert or #Advertisement “at the beginning” of the post “as an absolute minimum”.
While the ASA’s ruling noted KSI amended the caption to include the ‘#ad’ label once learning of the complaint, it went on to add the advert was in breach because “the commercial intent behind the post was not made clear upfront and the ad was not obviously identifiable as such”.
The regulator also said: “The post’s caption featured some elements that some consumers might have interpreted as signalling a commercial relationship between JD Sports and Mr Olatunji, including the reference to the ‘JD Arcade’, the ‘@JDSportsOfficial’ tag, and the instruction to view the ‘full version’ of the featured video on JD Sports’ YouTube channel.
JD SPORTS CHRISTMAS AD 2022 | KING OF THE GAMEwww.youtube.com
“However, in each case, the language used exclusively focused on the JD Sports brand itself, rather than its relation to Mr Olatunji.
“We therefore considered those elements did not amount to a clear statement of the commercial relationship between Mr Olatunji and JD Sports, which would be immediately understandable to consumers.”
When approached by the ASA as part of its investigation, JD Sports said it understood that labels such as ‘#ad’ were only required if content was not “already identifiable as such”.
“They believed that various aspects of the ad made clear that it was a marketing communication … [They] believed the video’s high production value and elaborate set dressing were suggestive of a professional ad agency’s involvement.
“The ad featured over 28 celebrities, including England international footballers and famous rappers. They believed that viewers would recognise as highly likely that such a varied group of high-profile individuals had been assembled as part of an advertising campaign.”
JD Sports also said the video had appeared in other media prior to it appearing on KSI’s Instagram account, meaning “many viewers would instantly recognise the Instagram post as a marketing communication”.
Meanwhile, the ruling continued to say KSI believed at the time that “references to JD Sports in the post’s caption, and the brand’s logo featured in the video’s closing shot, made clear to consumers that the video was an excerpt from a TV ad for JD in which he had featured.”
The label of ‘#ad’ was later added by KSI to “mitigate any risk of consumers being misled”.
However, the ASA concluded the advert was in breach, meaning it “must not appear again in the form complained of”.
It is still available on KSI’s Instagram account at the time of writing.
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