Three reality TV stars have had their Instagram posts banned after they failed to reveal that they were paid advertisements.
Geordie Shore’s Chloe Ferry, 25, Helen Briggs, 25, from Ex On The Beach, and Towie’s Myles Barnett, 27, have more than four million followers between them.
They all posted on the social media platform promoting advice service Debt Slayers earlier this year or late last year.
But the Advertising Standards Authority ruled they had not made it clear that they were being paid to advertise the company.
Ferry had written in January: “If you know someone who is over £5000+ in debt this is a new fully regulated scheme that can help you write off 85 per cent of the debt”, before providing a link to Debt Slayers.
Barnett posted: “One of my friends just got 81 percent of his debt wiped off. So if you’ve got debt above £5,000 – it could be credit cards, catalogues, car finance … a loan, anything like that, swipe up, there’s more information on there … you can wipe off a big, big chunk of your debt.”
A story on Briggs’ Instagram account in December featured a link to Debt Slayers’ website.
Three complaints were made to the ASA, saying the posts were not easily identifiable as ads, that they exaggerated how easy it was to reduce debts, and that they were not clear about the risks of taking out an individual voluntary arrangement (an alternative to bankruptcy).
Ashteck Media trades as Debt Slayers and said it had “informal agreements” with the three TV stars to produce the Instagram posts.
The only service provided by Debt Slayers was to pass details on to a third party and the company said that anyone who contacted them as a result of the posts was made aware of the risks and fees associated with IVAs.
It also said it had since stopped using social media influencers for promotions.
The ASA banned the ads from appearing in a similar form again and said Ashteck and the stars must ensure future ads were “obviously identifiable as marketing communications”.
“We told Ashteck Media to ensure their ads did not exaggerate the speed or ease with which debts could be reduced, that they made risks and fees of IVAs and other debt management services clear, and that they made clear that they passed on inquirers’ details to third parties and did not provide the service themselves.
“We also told Ashteck Media, Helen Briggs, Myles Barnett and Chloe Ferry to ensure that ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications in future, for example, by including a clear identifier such as ‘#ad’.”
An agent for Briggs said she would properly label her future marketing communications.
The agent for Barnett and Ferry said they accepted that the wording of the posts was potentially in breach of advertising rules and that they would not work with debt management companies again.