Influencers under fire for flouting ASCI guidelines

The guidelines for influencer marketing, which are applicable from June 14, mandate a disclosure label for paid content. BuzzInContent finds out how a handful of influencers associated with big brands have been spotted flouting these rules

Akanksha Nagar
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Many macro and mega influencers associated with big brands have been spotted not complying with the new guidelines announced by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to regulate the influencer marketing medium.

In May this year, ASCI released the final influencer marketing guidelines, which are aimed at enabling consumers to easily recognise promotional content on digital platforms.

The guidelines, which are in force from June 14, clearly state that any material connection between a brand and the influencer has to be disclosed, even for a discounted/free/PR product.

Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Lite for its recent influencer marketing campaign had on-boarded multiple influencers across genres and many of them were seen doing its #mifloatingchallenge without any disclosure about the association in their posts or videos.

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A post shared by Tanya Khanijow (@tanyakhanijow)

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A post shared by Ahsaas Channa (@ahsaassy_)

Tanya Khanijow has around 269K followers on Instagram and Ahsaas Channa has more than 2.2mn followers.

Manisha Kapoor

Though no penalty has been proposed for those who violate the guidelines, ASCI Secretary General Manisha Kapoor had earlier told BuzzInContent that brands and influencers that don’t care about being responsible to their own audience won’t last long in the market.

Speaking about the recent flouting of norms, she said, “We already have received numerous complaints, including against mega influencers, and are processing them. In most cases, the influencers immediately make corrections on being contacted by ASCI. Our own monitoring is in the testing stage and will commence soon.”

Kunal Kishore Sinha

Kunal Kishore Sinha, Co-founder and COO, ClanConnect, said it will definitely take some time for all influencers to follow the regulations and policies announced by ASCI.

However, big names from the industry can definitely be nudged as they will be setting the example for the rest of the ecosystem, he said.

“It is pertinent to note that there are two aspects to influencer marketing. One that is aligned with advertising and one with PR. ASCI, which is regulating the community that encompasses both PR and advertising, might never find one solution. In times to come, the PR Association might come up with certain guidelines, which will help influencers to deal with some guidelines and find a balance between identifying organic as well as inorganic ads,” he added.

In the ASCI guidelines, there has been no special mention about the responsibility of influencer marketing agencies. So, would they be held responsible or answerable if the influencers are found violating any of the guidelines?

Pranav Panpalia

While Pranav Panpalia, Founder, OpraahFx, believes the guidelines are still in the awareness phase, he said it is not always the influencers who are at fault as sometimes even brands insist on keeping the ads organic. Therefore, agencies have equal responsibility in making influencers aware of the importance of these guidelines, he said.

“Many influencers and brands aren’t even aware of the guidelines properly. As the ASCI guidelines are intensive, I believe it will take some time for both brands and influencers to follow all the disclosures. It is only with time that we can follow and adhere to the new rules and regulations. All we need is more time and awareness,” he said.

The agency is creating a culture to make both brands and influencers aware of the new guidelines. Every time it on-boards a new project, it makes brands aware of what guidelines they will have to follow.

“All this while, we have been practising adding the ‘paid partnership’ tag in all branded content that influencers share. But now, the disclosures list is endless,” he said.

Only time will tell if ASCI will take roll calls of offenders who fail to clearly tag paid-for endorsements.

Influencers under fire for flouting ASCI guidelines