An Instagram influencer has been reprimanded by advertising rules after failing to disclose that her glamorous posts were sponsored by brands.
Simone Anderson rose to fame after documenting her incredible 92kg weight loss journey online and has amassed more than 300,000 Instagram followers.
The 29-year-old from Auckland is the subject of four complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority after two of her posts were not clearly marked as being paid content by brands.
The decision is the first of its kind against a social media influencer, with Ms Anderson telling Daily Mail Australia she was being used to ‘set a precedent’.
The first posted was showcasing clothing from Aim’n Oceania Activewear, which was captioned: ‘Our little stroll this morning was so gusty!! Crop and tights @aimn.oceania “Simone10”.
The second post showed Ms Anderson drinking tea at Cordi’s Hotel in Auckland captioned: ‘Enjoying the new Autumn high tea menu at @cordisauckland – always such a treat!’
Both posts were found to have breached the Advertising Standards Code, where advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading.
Three complaints were made to the authority for the first post, as it was not clear the influencer had a commercial relationship with the brand.
Another complaint was made about Ms Anderson’s hotel post as it was difficult to tell whether her experience was sponsored or a gift.
The Advertising Standards Authority said Ms Anderson’s posts raised issues of ‘truthful presentation’, the NZ Herald reported
‘The complaints board agreed there was nothing wrong with being paid to create content by receiving gifts, services and hotel stays for free, but when this occurs there should be full disclosure up front about this commercial arrangement with the audience,’ they said.
The board said Ms Anderson should have added #gifted and #ad on both posts, which she has since updated.
Ms Anderson told Daily Mail Australia she did not receive any punishment and believes the board will create guidelines for other influencers based on her case.
‘The complaint has been upheld as a precedent-setting example of the exact hashtags that the ASA would like to see used to denote where goods or services have been accepted in return for social media coverage by content creators,’ she said.
‘There has been uncertainty in the past around the usage of the hashtags #colab and #gifted.
‘The decision released today indicates these are no longer robust enough identifiers and the ASA will start a process, inclusive of the wider advertising community, to set clearer guidelines.
‘At this time, no set legal guidelines exist around the usage of these terms, only best-practice suggestions.
‘The ASA requested that I re-identify the posts, which I have done immediately, and recommended the use of #ad or #sponsored in all transaction-based content in future.’
Ms Anderson is also subject of a second investigation by the ASA and the Commerce Commission into her ‘Simone’s Second Hand Wardrobe’ group on Facebook.
The published author and motivational speaker uses the group to sell her clothing and accessories at marked down prices with the proceeds being gifted to charity.
Some of Ms Anderson’s followers claim she has not provided proof that funds raised from the sale of her second hand clothing are being donated.
The Commerce Commission has expressed concerns Ms Anderson was ‘selling gifted clothing and accessories to NZ public via Facebook and claiming to donate money received to charity. Evidence of donations not transparent. Concerns around tax evasion, false advertising, misleading the public, etc.’
Ms Anderson told Daily Mail Australia she is aiding the Commission with their inquiries into her charitable donations.
‘The Commission is not investigating the matter at this time, however I am complying fully with the Commission, having supplied all evidence requested by them to refute this complaint,’ she said.
‘I entirely respect and support the process of investigation by the Commerce Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority, and will continue to co-operate with them unreservedly.’