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Warning to social media influencers and celebrities after ASA crackdown

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Boutique law firm Primas Law has issued a warning to UK-based social media influencers and celebrities promoting paid-for brand tie ups, after a spate of breaches were flagged by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

Celebrities and bloggers are making millions of pounds in commercial partnerships, as they set out to capitalise on the vast commercial opportunities posed by the social media boom in recent years.

However, as savvy marketeers find new ways to promote their brand or product by working with these social media influencers, it is posing some key and avoidable risks, according to Primas Law.

Over the past year, and as the sub-sector grows rapidly, Primas Law has accumulated a growing list of celebrities and social media influencers keen to secure advice on the changes and understand how to navigate the complex array of legal issues and new advertising rules.

“The new UK advertising rules – also known as the Committee of Advertising Practice, or CAP, code have been put in place to control paid-for advertising and encourage influencers to be as transparent as possible when it comes to exchanging product exposure for cash, said Adam Kerr, Managing Partner at Primas Law. “So, it’s critical they are navigating these correctly and adhering to the code, in order to prevent breaches, which can be very high profile and damaging for their personal brands.”

From models and reality TV stars to sports stars and bloggers, social influencers can boast millions of followers, with an ever-growing list of brands building paid-for relationships with influencers in order to expose their products to their followers.

The law firm, which has offices in Cheshire, Manchester and London, has a team that advises brands and influencers on their use and protection of intellectual property and influencer agreements.

Both HMRC and the ASA have been monitoring the social media influencer boom over the last few years, as the line between personal recommendations and paid advertising blurs, hastening the need for professional advisory services.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has also announced that it has secured formal commitments from 16 celebrities, including Rita Ora, Zoe Sugg and Michelle Keegan, to state clearly if they have been paid or received gifts from brands they endorse.

“Our intellectual property work is continuing to grow significantly, and we’ve had a flurry of new and existing clients keen to use our advisory expertise on intellectual property, influencer agreements and regulations as a result of these ongoing changes,” Adam added.

“Only recently we have been working with an international modelling agency to negotiate terms and conditions of an exclusive influencer agreement, in addition to negotiating heads of terms for a celebrity influencer being paid to post on social media.

“We welcome the new pledge from a list of high profile celebrities as part of the clampdown by the CMA, however, as social media continues to develop and mature – it’s even more important that influencers, brands and businesses seek sound advice and consultancy from a specialist team that understand the regulations; has the necessary experience in dealing within this niche space, and can keep up with the evolving pace of technology and the changing regulations.”