Sophie Hinchliffe amassed a crowd of 2.5million followers on Instagram, by posting pictures of her immaculately clean home and tips on how others can achieve the same results.
But the social network star was apparently hiding some dirt under the carpets: she is now under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.
Mrs. Hinch is undergoing scrutiny for allegedly not declaring she was receiving money to plug cleaning products. She said to be “clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership” and insisted that she is overcautious about plugging products.
A spokesperson for the ASA stated that in April three complaints were made about Mrs. Hinch’s posts on Instagram. ‘We have received three complaints […] concerning the labeling of ads – where she was posting about products including Flash and Febreze – and are currently investigating. We will publish our decision in due course.’
The Advertising Standards Authority has strict criteria about labeling ads and has issued an “influencers guide” to help people with large social media followings.
ASA states that “both you (acting as a ‘publisher’) and the brand are responsible for ensuring that advertorial content makes clear that it’s advertising.”
In case of a potential issue, the ASA informs the influencers. “Advice notices are a way of resolving a potential issue without going down the formal investigation route,” ASA said. In other words, when there are potential problems but the issue is not so significant as to warrant a formal investigation, the ASA contacts the advertiser and provides guidance on how to comply with the regulations.
Mrs. Hinch declared that she takes her social media responsibilities ‘very seriously’.
“I only collaborate with those that I genuinely like and would recommend to people. I continue to learn a lot but feel my community is clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership, and that which isn’t,” she declared.
But the truth is that she has already been contacted twice by the ASA with advice notices in the past: “This was considered the best course of action at the time, but upon receipt of further complaints in April, we decided to launch an investigation,” the agency said.