SBD/March 7, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

U.K. Agency Clears Snickers-Sponsored Tweet Campaign Featuring ManU's Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand posted a picture of him with a Snickers bar as part of sponsored tweet
A campaign by Snickers paying EPL club Manchester United D Rio Ferdinand and model Katie Price, among others, to "tweet about the chocolate bar has been cleared of breaking UK advertising rules" in the first ruling by U.K. ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority involving marketing on Twitter, according to Mark Sweney of the GUARDIAN. Snickers' parent company Mars "paid the celebrities to make five tweets." The first four tweets were "seemingly odd statements incongruous with the celebrities' usual behaviour and made no reference to Snickers." The final tweet, which was "accompanied by a photo of the celebrities holding a snickers bar, used the strapline 'you're not you when you're hungry' and the #spon suffix, short for 'sponsored' tweet." It also "mentioned @snickersUK, the official Snickers Twitter account." The ASA said that all five tweets "should be considered to be part of an 'orchestrated' advertising campaign and disagreed with Mars that the first four only became marketing communications after the final tweet was posted." However, the ASA said that the final tweet was "so clearly highlighted as an advertising campaign that consumers were not likely to be misled" (GUARDIAN, 3/7). An ASA spokesperson "described the decision as a 'landmark one' and said that it would probably open the door to more brands using celebrities as mouthpieces on Twitter." The Snickers U.K. Twitter account "only began a few weeks earlier and the series of celebrity endorsement tweets, all of which link to the new account, were all promoting the account and the brand to their millions of followers" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/7).
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