The ‘Beauty Recommended’ channel hosted on the video website, is owned and controlled editorially by P&G (Health & Beauty Care) and features a number of beauty tutorial videos, which is a popular method amongst cosmetics firms.
However, one particular video entitled ‘Easy Lip Makeup Tutorials for Winter Time’ in which it features a number of Max Factor products, as well as products from other brands, in the context of a lip make-up tutorial, drew criticism for not being obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
At the beginning of the video text appears stating "Sponsored by BEAUTY RECOMMENDED, brought to you by Procter & Gamble", which appears again in the video summary alongside a link to buy the P&G-owned brand’s products via the online shop ‘SuperSavvyMe’.
"’Sponsored by’ and ‘brought to you by’ do not make clear the marketing nature of videos.”
- Advertising Standards Authority
A question of clarity
P&G says its approach ensures that viewers are aware that the vlog is sponsored before they engage with the material as there are a number of mentions of the sponsored content in iDents and at the end of the video; and believe that engagement with the material starts when a consumer starts viewing the vlog.
“[P&G believes] ‘Beauty Recommended’ was seen by many viewers as a brand in its own right and so consumers would clearly understand that the videos were of a commercial nature,” says a company statement, adding that its approach goes further than its competitors to make this clear.
However, this did not wash with the Advertising Standards Authority who has said that P&G must ensure that future ads in this medium make their commercial intent clear prior to consumer engagement.
The UK watchdog understands the videos on the YouTube channel predominantly contain P&G products and are considered as marketing communications and that the Code requires that these must be obviously identifiable as such, and that crucially consumers needed to know that they were selecting an ad to view before they opened and watched it.
“Consumers would not necessarily be aware that the [Beauty Recommended] brand was owned and controlled by Procter & Gamble just by, for example, being clearly linked to one of their brands,” says its judgment.
“We noted that the ‘Beauty Recommended’ channel page gave no indication that the content was created by Procter & Gamble and that the channel title, and individual video titles, did not include any text to explain the commercial nature of the content.”
Therefore, because it wasn’t until a viewer had selected and opened the video that text, embedded in the video, referred to P&G, the ASA upheld the complaint, ordering the company to change the ad and make sure this goes for future communications too.