Advertising Standards Authority upholds four complaints against Simone Anderson

the ASA has upheld four complaints against Influencer Simone Anderson.
the ASA has upheld four complaints against Influencer Simone Anderson. Photo credit: Instagram / Simone Anderson

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld four complaints against influencer Simone Anderson.

The decision is the first of its kind to be made against a New Zealand social media influencer.

The four complaints regarded two Instagram posts by Anderson and all involved concerns over transparency on the posts being either sponsored or including gifted items.

Anderson has responded in an instagram post saying throughout her career she has always tried to act in good faith and with the best of intentions.

Three complaints were about a post of Anderson posing in her activewear at the beach captioned: "Our little stroll this morning was so gusty! Crop and tights @aimn.oceania 'Simone10'."

Complainants said the post was misleading as it didn't identify whether there was a commercial relationship between Anderson and Aim'n Oceania. 

One of the four complaints was to do with a post of Anderson at a high tea captioned: "Enjoying the new Autumn high tea menu at @cordisauckland - always such a treat! If you want to win a little getaway for yourself head to the @cordisauckland Instagram for your chance to win."

The complainant was concerned about the lack of transparency over whether Anderson's hotel trip was gifted or sponsored.

After the complaints were received Anderson responded by amending the posts to include the hashtag #gifted. Anderson also explained 'Simone10' was an affiliate code that gives followers 10 percent off when they use it to buy Aim'n products - but the code also gives Anderson five percent commission.

Anderson's relationship with the Cordis Hotel has no formal contract and her hotel stay was gifted in exchange for content on social media.

The complaints board agreed both posts were advertisements as Anderson received payment in the way of free goods and commission through her affiliate code. 

The board agreed there was nothing wrong with being paid to create content by receiving gifts and services for free but this type of relationship should be disclosed with the audience.

Affiliate codes should also be made clear to audiences as they are a form of direct payment, which can be traced directly back to the post.

The complaints board ruled the posts were to be deleted or amended.

Anderson posted a response to the decision on her instagram today. In the post Anderson explains that there has been uncertainty surrounding the correct way to maintain transparency in sponsored posts. She goes on to say the decision released today shows hashtags such as #gifted are no longer robust enough sponsorship identifiers.

Anderson ends the post by saying she has the best of intentions. 

"I am passionate about contributing and supporting the positive contribution made by content creators to the incredible community of Instagram and Facebook."

Art Green was involved in a similar situation in the past where a complaint was laid against him for a post sponsored by Heineken. Green identified the sponsorship using the hashtag #sp which the complainant did not consider clear enough. The complaint was later settled.