It’s been a few days now that the new set of Advertising/marketing rules and regulations in UK have been in place and already there is much discussion about it. Having to clearly mark what posts are ads or what posts contain sponsored or gifted items has always been very important in Scandinavia, so it is nothing new to us, however the extend of the UK rules surprised even myself. I say this with maybe a little bit of naivety from my part, but I have always felt I am very transparent with advertising and/or sponsored posts. Not just because the law requires me to do so, but because I feel it is this very transparency that allows you and me to have a good relationship based on trust. But how much can, a blogger for example, share that is not too much sharing? From what I have been reading these days it feels like there is great diversity of opinion on this, so much so that I have been amazed to find out that in fact what I thought was enough disclosing, it might have been less than desirable for some.
1 :: According to UK new set of rules when you are paid for a post you need to clearly specify this is an ad, so far so good. I think this is very important part of advertising, if you want to have a good relationship with your readers. And further, I read a lot of blogs, I follow a lot of people, I can see when something is an ad and I appreciate when they are up front about it. When they aren’t, it leaves me with a bitter taste, do they think I dont know this is an ad? Will that make me want to buy what is advertised less or more? I tend to say less in this occasion when clearly its an ad. But what if an item is gifted and there was no payment involved. Is this still technically an ad? And how should this be labeled as?
2 :: To answer to the question above, in addition to the latter, you now need to specify that a post is sponsored and still label it as Ad and specify which items are gifted or loaned, if any are included in the photo, regardless of if the post has nothing to do with them. I am not so sure about this, if I am not talking about an item that is on the background, what does it matter if it was at some point gifted? What if there are multiple items in the same photo, even though I am not highlighting them? If I did speak of a gifted item I would say it is gifted of course, I also specify when something is loaned ,even from a friend if I am even mentioning it. But if I am talking about the new lamp I bought from a brand, or my best friend gifted me something for my birthday, what does it matter if the rug under the sofa was at some point gifted from another brand 3 years ago? What if there are more items in the photo like this? How long will that disclaimer be and to which purpose does it really serve ? Which brings us to the last point ⇒
3:: Now it is required (only in the UK so far), that even if you have bought an item from a brand, to declare any previous relationship with said brand and also label this as an Ad. This is really blowing my mind away. If the only thing I am showing on the post is a pencil I bought from “insert brand name”, what does it matter if said company at some point gifted me with a pencil sharpener any amount of time ago? The item that is in the photo was bought by me, clearly because I wanted to buy it (and isn’t it so surely, that I always buy something or endorse something that fits my style anyways), whether I have worked with the brand before in any way, surely it shouldn’t matter? Transparency is essential above all, but there is a clear divide between opinion and advertisement here, if I label this kind of post as an ad, it denotes some kind of formal agreement with the brand of which there has been none. In this case there was no transparency at all, in fact for me it gives out an intention from my part that is completely false.
On the first point I have seen no conflicts, but on the second and third point I have been shocked to read that in fact, a staggering amount of people, not in the industry, do want to know every single detail. Is it because it gives a more realistic view and insight into the reality of my life for example? There is nothing more I would hate than knowing I am projecting an unrealistic and unattainable lifestyle, so much so that it makes whoever reads my blog feel bad about their own lives. I have always worked with the assumption that you know that some things are gifted, some things I have bought on discount, some are loaned then returned. And I can only hope that you know that regardless of if I am paid or not to showcase something, it is something that I like and believe in. I am here to inspire you, which is why I do not like the word “influencer” nor do I wish to be put into that category. I do not want to influence anyone into mindless consumerism. I am only here to say what is on my mind occasionally, and share my sense of style, and I hope you are here for that.
While maybe everyone is aware I dont only own items I have exclusively bought, I am aware that the overall picture might project a sense of lifestyle, that cannot be achieved if you have a set amount of money coming in every month, without really sacrificing something else on its altar. If you want to copy my living room in Oslo I can definitely tell you that will set you back a few salaries probably if you go ahead and order everything today. But hold on. The couch was there when I moved in from the previous owner, I would not take it with me when I moved out. The white shelf system I found on a great discount at a store, I happened to work for them privately so the amount I was paid I used immediately to buy the shelf system (basically what you call an impulse purchase, even though I needed a shelf system). The beautiful and very expensive plinth table, I saved up for almost a year for it, and while I did get a special price, since it came from Denmark I had to pay import taxes that almost made it so there was really no discount. My benefit was that it was delivered in just a few days while the waiting period is usually a few months, that was really the perc for me. The TV is mine, bought a few years ago, the black marble table was a loan for only several weeks that is long gone now and I did state several times that this was the case when I had it, the plant I bought super cheap from a market that since shut down and I bought the pot for it at discount at my florist because he gives me a percentage off just because I shop there a lot (doesn’t that sort of happen to everyone?). As you can see, my living room furnishings are I would say mostly circumstantial (though always per my style), and definitely not something that just popped up in one day out of the blue.And talking about gifted items, on the photo above the lamp was gifted. But I originally bought it myself! It was after it was broken and I posted about it that the brand send me a replacement as a gift. How can I categorize this ? I find it is more of a funny story rather something that matters enough to be disclosed, after all I did buy the original one. But do you need all this excruciating detail in order to know that I also live a real life ? Dont you live a real life? Do you get no percs from your work? Granded, I dont get to see your percs and you get to see mine, and what we dont see doesn’t affect us as much as what is paraded in front of our faces. Didnt you, like me, furnish your living room little by little? Maybe you didn’t know thats was my process as well if you just recently started following, but for those that followed me when I moved I m sure they were more than aware correct?
So is it that we must make allowances for new readers possibly? These new rules were set to address problems. Which problems though? If people feel bad that they cant afford their favorite blogger lifestyle, that is definitely a problem. Will it make them feel better if they know exactly what was gifted, or bought, or if there has been a previous relationship to the brand? Personally I want to see when something is an ad, but too many details do the opposite for me, in a sense they break the fourth wall or so to speak which takes away from my fantasy and makes me feel awkward. There is the difference for me, when I follow a fashion blogger for example that I like, I kind of like the fantasy they create, and I am well aware they aren’t always wearing things they bought themselves. If I feel they are not genuine and I can’t trust them I stop following them, I dont allow myself to feel bad for things I can’t afford (and there are sooo many bags and shoes and clothes I would love to have believe me). But maybe I am old enough to realise this, the fantasy I just talked about. Maybe younger more impressionable generations aren’t always able to take things with a grain of salt and maybe these are the ones that the new rules are relevant for.
Even so, I have to ask at this point, why aren’t other media affected by these guidelines? Newspapers, TV channels etc, athletes dressed head to toe from their sponsors, ads are running wild and they are almost never disclosed. I feel that at this point we should all strive to be more transparent, but I also feel that instead of implementing more complicated rules we should first look to put in line those that are not following existing guidelines first.
As for you my beloved readers, I hold you at high enough esteem to know that you are aware that I am as human as you are, that I am honorable when it comes to what I choose to endorse, and that if you are ever in doubt, you would be kind enough to tell me. After all, the reason this blog exists is to communicate with each other, so please, do share your opinion, do tell me if you think I m wrong, if I am making you feel bad in any way, I want to know. So I can fix it.
Always with respect,
// Photography and Editing by Katerina Dima
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6 comments on “Friday Thoughts : Ads, sponsored posts, gifted items , when is disclosing too much disclosure?”
Read it all and agree with all. Too much information is always, well, too much.
So glad to hear this! I have been reading so many comments by people saying they need to know everything, I just dont think its very healthy attitude either, its a little bit nosey, not transparent to me.
Only to the case of the broken lamp and receiving the new one as a gift. Then from my point of view it is a gift, even the original was bought by you. When my friend’s expensive lamp got broken she had to buy a replacement by herself. The brand did not give her any replacement as a gift. So, therefore I consider that as a gift finally.
Interesting point of view..what if your friends lamp was replaced for free by the same company? A lot actually do that, would that be a gift from the company or simply a replacement of a product then?
Because I am doing the job that I do its considered a gift, but if I was a simple consumer it would be considered a perfectly legal replacement 😉
Brilliant post and completely agree with you. I want to see a certain level of transparency but beyond that I simply don’t care that much, and I too like “the fourth wall” and the fantasy of Instagram. I think we’ve gone too far with those rules in the UK.
It really is ridiculous now that I see it in effect a few days later. Everyone seems to be apologetic that they have to explain so much before they even say what they had to say in their own caption! Just add this post contains gifted items at the end, or say its an ad if you were paid, it should really be enough!