Rio Ferdinand and Visit Qatar told off for Instagram post

Rio Ferdinand Qatar Instagram post
By Linsey McNeill
14/06/2023
Home » Rio Ferdinand and Visit Qatar told off for Instagram post

An Instagram post for Qatar by footballer-turned-TV pundit Rio Ferdinand broke advertising rules, according to watchdogs.

The post on 21 December last year featured a video which promoted the Visit Qatar website.

A caption alongside the video said: “Time spent eating my bodyweight in the kitchen! That’s a wrap for Qatar, been great filming behind the scenes and meeting so many locals!”

Underneath the post there were numerous hashtags, including #VisitQatar” and below that “#ad”.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority said the post didn’t make it sufficiently clear that Visit Qatar had paid Rio Ferdinand for the ad.

It said the hashtags, including #ad, were only visible on mobile devices if the user clicked a ‘more’ button.

Qatar Tourism admitted that the ad label wasn’t clear enough and told the ASA that it had ‘liaised with Rio Ferdinand’s representatives and that the post had been amended to make the label clearer’.

It also promised to ensure all future marketing posts would be more prominently labelled.

Rio Ferdinand’s representative said they believed that ‘all guidelines had been followed’ as the post included a #ad label. They said they used the #ad label because Instagram had previously advised them to do so.

Advertising rules state that marketing communications ‘must be obviously identifiable as such’, and that they ‘must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context’.

The ASA said: “We understood that Rio Ferdinand had a commercial relationship with Visit Qatar in which he had been paid to promote the tourism industry of the country using his Instagram account.

“We therefore considered that posts made under that relationship fell within the remit of the CAP Code.

“We considered that Visit Qatar and Rio Ferdinand were therefore jointly responsible for ensuring that marketing activity conducted on Rio Ferdinand’s account was compliant with the CAP Code.

“We then considered whether the post was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and whether it made its commercial intent clear.

“The post featured the label #ad. However, the label appeared at the end of the caption at the bottom of a list of hashtags. We considered that the positioning of the label was not sufficiently prominent to make clear upfront to Instagram users engaging with the post that it was an ad.

“Furthermore, when the post was viewed on a mobile device, the #ad label would not have been visible unless users clicked on the ‘more’ button.

“Because the ad did not make clear upfront its commercial intent, we concluded it was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication, and therefore breached the Code.”

The ASA told Qatar and Rio Ferdinand to ensure that their future ads were ‘obviously identifiable as marketing communications and the commercial intent was made clear’. It said identifiers such as #ad must be clearly and prominently displayed.

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