YouTube Oreo ‘lick race’ ads banned


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Emma Blackery's YouTube channel has more than 830,000 subscribers
Emma Blackery's YouTube channel has more than 830,000 subscribers

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The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned several YouTube adverts for Oreos following a BBC Newsround investigation, ruling that their commercial nature was not immediately clear to viewers.

Oreo’s parent company Mondelez paid several high-profile British video bloggers to make the ‘lick race’ ads and supplied them with Oreos for use in their videos.

The company said it had not intended to mislead consumers, claiming that standard YouTube practice was to acknowledge the company’s involvement in a text description. Mondelez said it had also stipulated that the company’s involvement should be acknowledged in the video itself, and the videos all mentioned that they had been created with Oreo.

“It was sufficiently clear to consumers that the videos were ads,”​ Mondelez said.

The ASA ruled that viewers were not made aware of the company’s involvement until after they had started watching, noting that the advertising code “required ads to be obviously identifiable as marketing communications”.

“We considered that this should apply to the general audience of the ad and considered that, given that these ads were on online video channels that were usually editorial based, the commercial intent would have needed to be made clear before viewers engaged with the content,”​ it said.

The ASA noted that the ads were in the same editorial style as other content on the YouTube channels, meaning that their commercial nature may not have been immediately obvious.

It concluded: “The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Mondelez UK Ltd to ensure that future ads in this medium made their commercial intent clear prior to consumer engagement.”

The vloggers involved have now changed the descriptions of their videos to make it clear that they contain paid-for content.

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