The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have updated their guidelines to clarify how on earth vloggers are supposed to approach their increasingly cosy relationship with brands in the age of content marketing.
It’s no real surprise that people are making mistakes and falling foul of the ASA in such new territory. We covered the Oreo Lick Race that landed vloggers and Mondolez International in trouble earlier in the year.
Fortunately we’re now in a position as an industry where the regulating body has caught up with reality.
Why does this matter?
A vlogging-inclusive CAP Code is an exciting development in clarity for content marketers, and a fun excuse for everybody else to say a much-underused word. Vlog vlog vlog.
“Our guidance will give vloggers greater confidence that they’re sticking to the rules which in turn will help maintain the relationship and trust they’ve built with their followers,” said Shariar Coupal, director of the Committee of Advertising Practice.
It became clear that such rules were necessary when companies like Mondolez International (Oreo’s parent brand) engaged vloggers in a paid Lick War on their YouTube channels. Participants raced to lick through the filling of an Oreo. Gripping stuff.
The problem wasn’t the inane content (you might be surprised to hear). It was that it wasn’t clear that the videos were paid-for by Oreo’s parent brand. Such examples have popped up all over the vlogsphere as everybody tries to figure out what’s okay and what isn’t.
So what’s okay?
The CAP Code has long stated that consumers must not be misled by any ad content, but in this landscape of shiny new media and evolving brand relationships what counts as misleading isn’t always obvious.
The updated guidance separates content into clearer categories. Whether vloggers are promoting their own product or someone else’s, in their own editorial space or elsewhere, and whether they have creative control or not is all taken into account in the comprehensive overview. You can read the full CAP Guidance for vloggers and brands over at the CAP website.
For example, the guidelines are very clear on the distinction between brand control and brand sponsorship. The latter implies that a brand has simply supported the content with no creative control. In instances where the brand has dictated the creative direction of the content labels such as “ad” “ad feature” or “advertorial” are suggested as appropriate.
Creative control is really the big issue, which perhaps turns a complex issue into a simple one. Where the brand dictates an element of the content, it must be made clear. This can be in the form of a simple label or explanation in the video description box, holding up a sign, or even a mention in the video. “I’ve been paid to talk to you about [product]” or similar is fine in most instances.
In light of the updated guidelines it seems obvious where the line should fall, which probably means they’re a pretty good way of navigating brand partnerships in content marketing.