The UK’s Advertising Standards Association (ASA) watchdog has banned a Wayne Rooney Nike Twitter campaign.The ruling follows tweets by Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney and his Arsenal rival Jack Wilshere who posted on to Twitter at the request of the sportswear firm.
The Advertising Standards Authority said that the messages did not make clear they were “identifiable as marketing communications”.
It is the first time that the ASA has acted against a Twitter based campaign.
The authority said it had intervened after receiving a single complaint earlier this year about two tweets – one from each of the sportsmen posted to their personal accounts.
Wayne Rooney’s tweet read: “My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion…#makeitcount gonike.me/makeitcount”.
Jack Wilshere had posted “In 2012, I will come back for my club – and be ready for my country gonike.me/Makeitcount”.
Rooney has close to 4.8 million followers on his account. The offending tweet was posted on 1 January.
The complainant challenged whether the tweets were “obviously identifiable” as adverts.
Nike responded that the presence of its web address alongside a hashtag with its marketing campaign strapline distinguished the tweets from other personal posts by the players. It added that both sportsmen were well known for having being sponsored by the company.
But the ASA said the elements did not make the tweets “obviously identifiable” as adverts, bearing in mind that many Twitter users scroll through a variety of messages at speed. It added that not all of the social network’s users would have been aware of the “make it count” campaign, or the footballers’ relationship with Nike.
It suggested that in future firms should add #ad or some other clear indication that a message had been paid for.
Whilst this action by the ASA does break new ground, the fact that it has only just been announced- some six months after the event indicates that they don’t currently expect to be upholding many social media complaints.
However it does act as a reminder that people and business much take care and not assume that some sort of online impunity exists.