The watchdog determined that Ferdinand’s ad violated the code and upheld the complaint.
Former Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has been warned by an advertising watchdog for a social media post he made promoting tourism in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The post, shared on Instagram last year, featured a video endorsing the Visit Qatar site.
The caption alongside the video read: “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!” Text underneath stated ‘#VisitQatar’ and below that read ‘#ad’, according to reports.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that the hashtags “#VisitQatar” and “#ad” were not immediately visible on mobile devices and required users to click on a ‘more’ button.
The ASA pointed to a complaint from a viewer questioning whether the post was clearly recognisable as marketing.
The ASA confirmed that Qatar Tourism, which operates as Visit Qatar across social media, admitted that the label’s visibility in the post was not prominent enough.
The official government entity also assured the ASA that future marketing posts would be appropriately labeled.
“They informed us that they had liaised with Rio Ferdinand’s representatives and that the post had been amended to make the label clearer. They also informed us that they would ensure that all future marketing communication posts would be more prominently labelled,” said the ASA ruling.
The former Manchester United and England defender’s representatives claimed to have followed guidelines by including the “#ad” label, referring to Instagram’s advice.
However, the ASA maintained that the post failed to meet the standards of clear identification and transparency required by advertising codes.
“In the ruling, the ASA said it understood 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,” as reports quoted.
“We therefore considered that posts made under that relationship fell within the remit of the CAP [The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing] 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,” the ruling added.
ASA added that the advertisement failed to effectively communicate its commercial purpose from the beginning, leading to the conclusion that it was not easily detected as a marketing communication.
Consequently, the watchdog determined that the ad violated the code and upheld the complaint.
“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of,” said the ASA.
“We told Qatar Tourism t/a Visit Qatar and Rio Ferdinand to ensure that their future ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and the commercial intent was made clear, and that identifiers such as ‘#ad’ were clearly and prominently displayed.”