Mars Twitter marketing campaign cleared by ASA

In its first consideration of advertising on Twitter, the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has ruled that a Twitter marketing campaign by Mars does not breach the CAP Code. The CAP Code is the code of practice that seeks to ensure that adverts are not misleading. Although the CAP Code does not have legal force, it is best practice to comply with it, as failure to do so can result in bad publicity and ultimately an inability to obtain advertising space.

Complaints had been made to the ASA that tweets by Rio Ferdinand (the Manchester United player) and Katie Price (the model) were not obviously identifiable as adverts. The tweets by Ferdinand related to knitting and those by Price were about macroeconomics, and were followed by a final tweet that said “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” with a picture of each of them eating a Snickers chocolate bar.

The ASA rejected the complaints due to the fact that the final tweet contained the tag “spon” to indicate that it was sponsored content and contained the tag “snickersUK”. That was enough for the ASA to conclude that it was clear that the tweets were advertising, and that, as a series, each set of tweets was a marketing communication rather than each individual tweet. The ASA said that each of the previous tweets in the series were teasers. They had been posted in quick succession and it was acceptable that each of the first four tweets were not individually labelled as being part of a marketing communication. All had been clearly revealed in the fifth within the series of tweets.