Reality TV star in Snapchat controversy


Two Snapchat posts by reality television star Marnie Simpson have fallen foul of advertising standards for failing to clearly indicate they were sponsored.

The posts in June showed Simpson holding a Diamond Whites tooth polish product close to her face with the text "50% off everything from Diamond Whites" and an image of her wearing grey contact lenses.

Following complaints about both snaps, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated and has ruled they potentially misled her fans about the nature of her relationship with the products.

The watchdog found Ms Simpson had uploaded snaps of products from firms she had commercial relationships with without telling her followers.

Strict regulations prohibit stars like Ms Simpson, who has featured in Geordie Shore and Celebrity Big Brother, engaging in "hidden" advertising on social media.

Image:Marnie Simpson was advertising on Snapchat without informing her followers

Simpson, 25, has been a brand ambassador for Diamond Whites – a tooth polish cosmetics company – for two years.

Her management agency also sells coloured contact lenses under the name "I Spy Eyes by Marnie Simpson".

The ASA said knowledge of Ms Simpson's relationships with these brands wasn't a given, and said that the snaps weren't obviously identifiable as adverts.

Given the length of the relationship, Diamond Whites said it did not feel the posts required hashtags but would "look to put those in place in the future".

Unleashed PR, trading as I Spy Eyes, said Simpson did not explicitly refer to lenses or mention I Spy Eyes or the website, and therefore did not believe the snap was misleading to the consumer as the product was not available to buy.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Abbie Holborn, Nathan Henry, Marnie Simpson, Aaron Chalmers and Chloe Ferry attend the Geordie Shore series 15 premiere photocall at MTV London on August 29, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Image:Geordie Shore star Marnie Simpson (centre) was brought before the ad watchdog

The ASA said it was the responsibility of I Spy Eyes and Diamond Whites to make sure promotional activity carried out on their behalf was compliant with the rules.

It found neither snap was clearly identifiable as a marketing communication, and both breached its code, but welcomed their "willingness to ensure they would use '#ad' in future".

The ASA ordered the posts to be deleted, rather than issuing a fine.

However, as Snapchat Story posts are automatically deleted 24-hours after being posted, the former Geordie Shore star was not ordered to take any action.

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