Expert comment: ‘Nike becomes first UK company to have Twitter campaign banned’

Des Laffey is Senior Lecturer in E-commerce at Kent Business School, University of Kent and comments on the following Guardian news item:

‘Nike becomes first UK company to have Twitter campaign banned’

Twitter advertising campaign banned
The announcement that Nike have had a Twitter campaign featuring Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere banned shows a growing interest in the use and manipulation of social media.  In response to a complaint the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decided that it was not clear that the tweets were in fact advertisements.

Direct communication….
In the football arena Twitter has become a means for players to directly connect to their supporters with star players having hundreds of thousands of followers.  This has been a refreshing change to the tight control that press officers had thrown around football with players sharing their insights on the game and updates on their own situation.

Or direct marketing?
However, having access to such a large audience means there is clearly a temptation to use Twitter as an advertising medium.  In doing this Nike argued that they done nothing wrong and it was clear that the tweets were adverts:  they already sponsored Rooney and Wilshere through high profile agreements and the tweets included the company’s ad strapline.  However, the ASA stated that the Twitter environment required obvious identification of advertising suggesting a hashtag #ad.

User awareness
With a growing sense that traditional methods of advertising and a growth in online advertising issues such as the Twitter case will become increasingly important.  It is good to see that the ASA are aware of the issues as users are often unaware of the difference between natural content and advertising in the online environment.

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