In recent years, with the rapid spread of the use of social media, advertising activities have started to be carried out through social media platforms such as “Instagram”, “Facebook”, “YouTube”.
These advertisements can be published directly from the official accounts of the relevant brands, or they can be published from the accounts of social media influencers (“Influencer”) in cooperation with. As a result of this, it is observed that criminal sanction is applied to influencers and advertisers who cooperate with influencers in the decisions of the Board of Advertisement (“Board”).
Below are sample decisions about advertisements made through influencers and which were ruled to administrative fines or suspension of advertisements by the Board.
- Decision No. 2021/1327;Video published on Influencer’s YouTube account
A video comparing pasta prices and flavors was published on the YouTube account of an influencer with 9.45 million followers as of 14.12.2021, in order to influence and direct the followers.
It has been evaluated by the Board that it is a surreptitious advertisement on the grounds of that there is no advertising reference in the video named “2 TL Makarna vs. 2000 TL Makarna“, there are outside view of the places visited, map information, menu visuals, praising statements about the kinds of pasta being tasted, and the name of the places and social media accounts of the consumers were included in the explanation part of the video directed to the said places. Therefore, it has been determined that this video is in violation of the Consumer Protection Law numbered 6502 and the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices. As a result of the evaluations, it was decided to impose a penalty on the influencer for suspension of the advertisement.
- Decision No. 2021/4639;Promotions on Influencer’s Instagram account
An influencer shared a post on the Instagram social media account that the child who did not want to use the medicine given by the doctor, who said that it would pass in 10-15 days, was used for the child whose cough did not go away, and that child’s cough stopped on the 4th or 5th day by using the company’s 5 mixture.
As a result of the examinations made by the Board, it has been evaluated that the accuracy of the statements made in the advertisement cannot be considered scientifically proven, so they do not reflect the truth and therefore the consumer has been deceived and misled by these statements whose accuracy has not been scientifically proven for reasons such as
the fact that encouraging and recommending the use of a mixture of the company instead of a drug and/or medicinal human product given to prevent a disease diagnosed by a medical doctor is disruptive to public health, on the other hand, is the statement in the sharing that “…the cough has stopped…” there is a health claim, the product in question, which is food, is introduced as if it is a medicine or a human medicinal product and the use of such health claims is strictly prohibited according to the provisions of the current legislation without a permission from the relevant administrative authority to make any health claim regarding a product. However, the permission has not obtained for the statements used in this advertisement.As a result of the evaluations, it was decided to impose a penalty on the firm for suspension of the advertisement and administrative fine for TRY 114.326,00 (approx. EUR 7.100).
- Decision No. 2021/2411;Promotions in the Instagram account of Influencer
In the posts made by a famous actress on her Instagram social media account, the products of various brands were promoted, and the names of the brands and the tags of their social media accounts were included in the posts.
It has been evaluated by the Board that it is a surreptitious advertisement on the grounds of that there is no advertising reference in the posts in where the products of the brands in question are promoted through the promotions. It is stated that the brands are implicitly advertised by directing the followers of the individual to the subject brands without any advertising referencing phrases. Therefore, it has been determined that this video is in violation of the Consumer Protection Law numbered 6502 and the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices. As a result of the evaluations, it was decided to impose a penalty on the actress for suspension for the advertisement.
In the light of abovementioned decisions, the Board is attempt to impose administrative fines and suspensions of the advertisement that are in violation of the surreptitious advertising ban, deceive consumers and/or do not obtain necessary permissions for advertisements made through social media platforms. It is seen that these penalties can be applied directly to influencers as well as to the advertiser of the advertised product.
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Authors: Bilge Derinbay, Hande Ülker Pehlivan