Instagram influencer Erin Simpson apologises after ASA complaint over 'gifted' services

Erin Simpson
Simpson said she didn't mean to "mislead or misinform" her social media followers. Photo credit: Instagram/ Erin Simpson.

Instagram influencer Erin Simpson has apologised for a series of posts lauding the benefits of facials at an Auckland skincare clinic without disclosing they were gifted to her for advertising purposes. 

A complaint was issued to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) last month by one of Simpson's 39,000 followers, pointing out that she had recently been posting about getting treatments done with Caci Clinic without "acknowledging that it is paid or gifted, which she is required to do". 

According to ASA documents, the advertisement for Caci Clinic's micro-needling treatment was posted to Simpson's Instagram Story in early June. 

The post showed a picture of Erin's face with text saying: "My face will only be red for about an hour and then will go down! The benefits of this treatment will last months." 

"[Caci] have different programmes and deals you can sign up to, to save your pennies. Click through or ring for a consult like I did." 

In a statement to the ASA, Simpson said she took the complaint "very seriously" and apologised for "the confusion" around her post. 

"[I didn't intend to] mislead or misinform any of my followers and viewers on any of my social media platforms," she wrote.

"I am versed in the use of hashtags to apply transparency around [the] promotional content I create and am also extremely open if a follower simply asks about posts. This occasion is an isolated situation and will not reoccur from any of my platforms." 

Simpson explained her partnership with the Auckland skincare clinic began in 2018 and her content at the time disclosed the treatments were "#gifted" and "#notpaid". 

"Throughout my ongoing partnership with Caci Clinic I post stories surrounding my skin journey and treatment in a review form to document real results and real procedures.  

"It is usually common practice that I use certain hashtags to classify the nature of my posts, in this instance I forgot and for that I am sorry.

"Moving forward I will be creating a clear set of hashtags that I will use on all posts that align with the brands I work with and the influencer guidelines they have available."

The ASA chair acknowledged Simpson's cooperation through immediately removing the advertisement and deemed the complaint to be settled. 

Several ASA complaints have been issued recently in the wake of stricter enforcement of guidelines over sponsored and gifted services. According to the Advertising Standards Code, advertisements from Instagram influencers must be "appropriately identified to the relevant audiences". 

Earlier this month several complaints were upheld against Auckland influencer Simone Anderson for promoting products without labelling them as advertising.