Advertising ethics? Screw that! Musician Ebony Day and beauty guru Fleur DeForce have lashed out at the new YouTube advertising rules in the United Kingdom.
These rules have already caught out British YouTubers like Dan Howell, Phil Lester, KickThePJ, TomSka and Emma Blackery for not properly disclosing that their Oreo “Lick Race” videos were, in fact, advertisements.
No More Sneaky Advertising
As most people have already noticed, the Advertising Standards Authority has issued brand new guidance for YouTube product placement and advertising in the United Kingdom.
That’s why British YouTubers, like Tanya Burr and the Gleam Team, have already started putting the word “Ad” in the titles of their videos (although, still rather sneakily, as shown below).
Under the new guidelines, it is required to have very obvious labels on videos that clearly communicate that it is a sponsored video.
For example, vloggers trying to sneakily peddle sponsored goods must either have the words “Sponsored” or “Advert” in the video title, or as a label on the actual thumbnail.
This is coming at the right time, with the busy Christmas season approaching, and YouTubers’ sponsorships going into overdrive.
It is no longer acceptable to hide a tiny, one-line sentence hidden somewhere inside the description box, only visible when clicking the “Show More” button, like Fleur currently does.
Fleur DeForce Complains About Having To Be Honest
Fleur and Ebony are not fans of this increased transparency, and lashed out to BBC Newsbeat.
Fleur says, “It ruins the content [from a creative standpoint]. It sends out a far larger message than required. It is distracting to the content.”
Fleur claims that advertising and product placement in videos typically only last a short amount of time. “Production of a 30-second sponsored content piece, inside a ten or fifteen minute video…it’s clearly not the content’s focus.”
She also makes the absurd claim that the ASA should trust all vloggers to disclose sponsorships properly – because she, as an individual, is responsible.
“I am very vocal about the disclosure of sponsored content. It does not need to be regulated.”
Ebony Day Also Fights Back
Ebony claims that the word “Advertisement” makes YouTube videos “feel a lot less genuine” as most people expect the vlogger to actually use or like the products they are trying to promote.
She says that she is not likely to watch an “Advertisement” video, as she would be expecting the entire video to be promotional.
She then claims that such practices are expected on television, but says YouTube is far different. “It’s not a large company! It’s just a person in the bedroom.”
With YouTube stars – who are brands in themselves – making six and seven figure yearly salaries, getting book deals, television shows, and brand deals with multinational firms – we struggle to buy this “little person in the bedroom” narrative.
How Might Fleur & Ebony Be Punished If They Continue to Break the Rules?
The ASA can’t actually officially enforce its rules, because it is a non-statuary organization.
However, there are several methods they can utilize if Fleur and Ebony refuse to follow the rules.
They can generate bad publicity, fine offenders via the Office of Fair Trading, and even pressure advertisers to not advertise unless the adverts have been vetted by a team.
Lynsay Taffe, Director of Communications at the ASA, says, “It is a fundamental right that people are able to distinguish between people’s opinions, and when someone is trying to sell something because they have been paid to do so.”
Do you think the new standards are going too far? Or is it a welcome addition? Comment below and tell us!