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ASAI

In late June, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) upheld a complaint made against blogger Rosie Connolly.

It was claimed that the 28-year-old had filtered and photoshopped an image uploaded to Instagram.

The photograph was promoting a product sponsored by the makeup brand Rimmel.

The social media star has remained tight lipped about the ASAI ruling – until now.

 

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Previously, Rosie stated the image in question had been approved by the makeup giant.

Rimmel Ireland however, took down the post as “it did not reflect their values as a brand.”

Nevertheless, they added that there was never an intent for it to be misleading.

Now, the blogger said she felt that she had been made an example of by the Advertising watchdog.

 

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Speaking to the Irish Mirror, Rosie said she didn't blame the ASAI for their ruling, but did agree when asked if she felt they made her an example.

“Yeah, I do. I think they have to I suppose, that’s their position," said the blogger.

“Back when it happened I actually explained my position and how it all came about. I wasn’t going to relive the whole thing again when they came out with the ruling.

“But yeah, I don’t blame them for it. I think that’s just the way it goes. There are plenty of people who have broken rules or done things that were frowned upon by the ASAI but obviously my complaint was upheld, that’s fine.”

 

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The blogger delved into the reason why she decided to stay quiet after the complaint was upheld.

Rosie felt she had been honest with her followers before the ASAI made their ruling and didn't want to relive the past.

“I came out and I explained exactly what happened, I was very open and honest when it all happened so when [the ruling] came out recently I wasn’t going to go through the whole thing again.

"Anyone who has followed me for that long already knows the story so I thought there was no point in bringing it up again."

 

A post shared by Rosie Connolly-Quinn (@rosieconxxx) on

However, Rosie added that she respects the ASAI's conclusion and why they did it.

 “I suppose they have to and I respect their guidelines, I respect what they have to do to make a point," she explained.

“So yeah, I do feel like I was used as an example but I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that.”

 

A post shared by Rosie Connolly-Quinn (@rosieconxxx) on

The ASAI’s Complaints Committee stated after they chose to uphold the decision, that:

“All involved in the production of marketing communications that care should be taken so that the use of pre- and post-production techniques did not mislead about the attributes of the product being advertised.”

It will be interesting to see if further complaints of this nature will be ruled in the same way, and how that could impact the Instagram bloggers and brands who sponsor them. 

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Social media popularity has become a career path for many men and women, and Ireland has a particularly healthy influencer industry, with hundreds of individuals holding our online attention. 

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, an influencer is defined as 'an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.'

Recently, there has been serious backlash against the influencer industry from their audiences, after a number of forums and pages came to light which exposed heavy photoshopping, misleading sponsored posts and rigged competitions.

Many forums and commenters pointed out that they feed it is fraudulent for an influencer to sell a product such as makeup and photoshop the results they achieve using said product. 

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has now said it is reviewing these complaints for the sake of consumer protection at a European level, according to RTE.

The Consumer Protection Act 2007 forbids the promotion of false or misleading information to sway sakes of a service or product.

However, there is currently no specific legislation to govern the role of social media influencers in this area. 

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has said that they have seen a signifiant increase in complaints about social media influencers in the past 24 months. 

'If you are advertising a slimming product and if you take a before and after photograph and if you alter the after photograph and make yourself look thinner, well then you are implying that the product will achieve that result and that’s likely to mislead,' ASAI Chief Executive Orla Twomey told RTE.

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Ireland's top social influencers have been warned that they must tell their followers when an image has been edited.

According to reports, The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has said the public must be made aware when an image used in online advertising has been altered in any way.

The warning comes just days after a number of influencers rallied together to create a campaign against online bullying after Instagram account @bullshitcallerouter accused the women of misleading their followers through the use of filters and photoshop.

The page, which attracted thousands of followers overnight, caused quite the stir online

The anonymous woman behind the account told SHEmazing, “I wanted to bring awareness that the image portrayed by these 'influencers" is a highly sanitised version of reality.”

She continued: “I think the whole 'influencer' craze is just mindboggling. Here you have a select few, who have made their livings out of pedalling certain products and lifestyles on young women (mostly) in this country.”

“Now, I have no problem with ANYONE making a living and putting food on their tables.  What I (and many others it would seem!) have issues with is the whole fake lifestyle.”

 

A post shared by Rosie Connolly (@rosieconxxx) on

In response to the controversy, fashion and lifestyle blogger Rosie Connolly admitted that she had previously edited photos that were used to promote products from advertisers, and apologised to her followers – a practice which, according to the ASAI, does not adhere to their codes of conduct.

It is not yet know how the warning will affect the relationships between brand and influencers, but we're looking forward seeing a more transparent approach when it comes to advertising and sponsorship. 

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Influencers are part and parcel of our online lives, and while they entertain us with their Instagram antics, they are also masking a booming business of brand endorsements.

This year, 33 complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland, as reported by The Journal this morning. 

Ireland’s advertising watchdog received triple the amount of complaints on last year, regarding influencers promoting brands and products without the now legally enforced transparency. 

Influencers are required to be transparent in their paid for content according to the Irish Statute book.

Using the hashtags 'ad' 'spon' or 'SP' are usually considered an acceptable declaration of branded content, as seen above. In the case of Snapchat, all of the snaps uploaded must carry the sponsorship hashtag, not just the first. 

Orla Twomey, chief executive of the ASAI told TheJournal that 33 complaints are being investigated.

 

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'It is likely in this area that we will have more adjudications,” she told The Journal. 

The ajudications from the current investigations are due out in August. 

'I genuinely believe people don’t set out to deceive or not disclose, but it’s a new area and people are learning and improving practice as they go along,' she said

'It’s very good to see that there had been such engagement among bloggers and blogging communities in this area.'

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Blogging has really taken off in the past number of years, and it's safe to say that most people either know a blogger personally or are a blogger themselves. 

But, in new guidelines released by The Advertising Standards Authority in Ireland, blogging is about to drastically change.

The ASAI revealed today that they are cracking down on bloggers all over the country, with no online personality being able to talk about a product or service without letting their fans know they are getting paid to do it. 

The same rules were introduced in the UK two years ago after numerous complaints were made about full disclosure.

ASAI's chief executive, Orla Twomey told the Sunday Business Post that since bloggers are in the media, they have to follow the rules like everyone else does.

"The ASAI code requires advertisers not to mislead consumers, not to offend them, make sure advertising is truthful and that consumers know when they’re receiving marketing material," she said.

"As digital and online develop, new people come into those industries that do not have a background in traditional media and the understanding that codes apply. It’s not that we are reinventing the rules, because the rules apply to all media".

So, now if a blogger – of any kind – has worked with a brand, they need to outline it clearly on the blog post or vlog. 

They will also be asked to include hashtags on social media posts, like #ad or #sponsored to let people know money has been exchanged. 

The new standards are going to be coming into effect as soon as March 2016.  

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