Twitter bans Nike campaign
Filed under: TV, Phone & Broadband
The crime was simple: Rooney sent out a Tweet endorsing Nike without declaring it was sponsored. This is against the rules so the idea was nixed very quickly. Here's a report from the Guardian.
This could be the start of something big. The aim is of course laudible: Twitter management wants honesty from its participants. There is nothing wrong with earning a living by making advertising statements - loads of actors and voice artists do it on the TV all the time, in items clearly understood to be adverts.
This is the important thing. The reader/viewer/follower knows they're being sold something, they understand that David Tennant may not really have a Virgin set-top-box. It's the deal. Wayne Rooney Tweeting that he needs his Nikes to be professional is different - it looks like a genuine recommendation when in fact he was being paid.
Similar campaigns appear to have fallen down in America, although it's not always clear whether reports of bans have been true. In 2010 the world of blogs was alive with rumours that Twitter had deliberately banned Justin Bieber from trending - see this report for example.
A clearer example was the furore over Katy Price, Rio Ferdinand, several others and Snickers bars. The celebrities uploaded pictures of themselves with the confectionery in question and only in the last Tweet was the hashtag #spon included, which indicated the whole thing was a sponsored campaign. This was deemed OK by the Advertising Standards Authority following an investigation (the celebs were involved in a TV campaign as well so it has to be taken in that context). This report in the Independent may jog your memory.
More amusingly there was a Tweet about King of Shaves' razors a couple of years ago, from a guy who said he'd cut himself to ribbons on them. King of Shaves itself responded with a pithy "Are you going to tell readers you're Gillette's accredited PR, or shall I?" - the result being total humiliation for the original poster, shredded or not.
So what do businesses do if they want to promote themselves, quite legitimately, but don't want to break rules or upset people? There are a few simple guidelines.
The first is to tell people what you're doing. I have an independent blog - this isn't the place to publicise it - but whenever I accept payment I mark the entry "sponsored" - which hasn't stopped people asking whether I'm being paid for some of the items that get a positive review from me (answer no, or else I'd declare it). Openness is the only way to foster trust.
The second is not to overdo it. People might trust you're open but if you only ever say "buy my stuff" then they'll only go away, bored. It's not an advertising medium as such, you need to natter as well.
If you hire a PR or marketing company they need to follow the same rules. Don't slate the competition as in the Gillette example, and if they want to promote you then make sure they add the word (client) - in brackets, like that.
And watch out for celebrity endorsement. If you can get it - and good grief you'll pay for it - fair enough; celebrities can go in and out of fashion for reasons you'd never have guessed. Imagine for a moment you owned a financial advice company and this time last week you'd struck this brilliant deal with Jimmy Carr...
Blogger Guy Clapperton is the author of "This Is Social Media"