The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned social media posts from Laura Whitmore promoting an alcohol brand for being inappropriately targeted.
In July, the former Love Island host shared a post on Instagram and TikTok of her dancing while drinking peppermint tea, water and beer.
Whitmore then drank a beverage from drinks brand The Muff Liquor Company – of which she is an investor – and danced energetically.
The hashtag “#makemineamuff” featured in both the video and caption, the latter reading: “If drinks were dance moves muffliquorco #muffboss #irishowned.”
A complaint was made by a social media user who knew that Whitmore had invested in the company. They questioned whether the ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, and were inappropriately targeted because they featured alcoholic drinks, as they implied alcohol could improve your mood and enhance confidence.
The Muff Liquor Company confirmed that Whitmore was a shareholder in the company, but had not been paid for the advert. They said they’d asked her to remove the post within 24 hours of being made aware of the complaint and agreed that future ads would be reviewed before posting.
Whitmore told the ASA that she had used the hashtag “#muffboss” to declare her shareholder status, believing “#ad” would not have been suitable as she was not paid for the posts.
TikTok said Whitmore had not used its branded content disclosure tool, even though the post appeared to fall into this category. Instagram said it had no comment on the investigation.
The ASA said the posts should have been clearly marked as ads, ruling that they must not appear again.
It was noted that, as a former presenter on Love Island, Whitmore was likely to appear on the social media feeds of the show’s young fans.
“Even if those individuals did not follow Ms Whitmore, we considered it was likely that the algorithm would determine Ms Whitmore’s posts to be of interest to them, meaning they would appear in their For You page,” the ASA said.
“Whilst we acknowledged that the ads were presented in a light-hearted tone, nonetheless we considered that consumers would interpret the ads to mean that drinking alcohol could precipitate a change in an individual’s behaviour and could enhance an individual’s confidence.”