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SBD Global/June 20, 2012/Media

Nike Football Twitter Campaign Banned Over Unclear Tweets

Nike has become the first U.K. company to have a Twitter campaign banned after an advertising watchdog decided that its use of the personal accounts of footballers Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere "broke rules for not making clear their tweets were adverts," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Nike ran the Twitter campaign "as part of a wider marketing push under the Make It Count advertising strapline." A tweet posted by Rooney said: "My resolution -- to start the year as a champion and finish it as a champion ... #makeitcount". A tweet from Wilshere said, "Jack Wilshere stated in 2012, I will come back for my club -- and be ready for my" Watchdog Advertising Standards Authority said that it was understood from its investigation that the final content of the tweets was "agreed with the help of a member of the Nike marketing team." ASA added that the web address in the tweet was clearly branded as Nike. They also said that the message "carried the company's strapline, which made it clear which of the players' tweets were personal and which were ads" (GUARDIAN, 6/19). The FINANCIAL TIMES' Tim Bradshaw reported that the complaint is the first to be upheld against Twitter activity involving advertisers since the ASA "assumed new powers to regulate social media last year." Nike responded by arguing that the tweets “should be viewed in the context in which they appeared” because Twitter is “a more direct channel of communication between two parties, than traditional media.” Nike added that both players were “well known for being sponsored by Nike” and that therefore, their followers “would not be misled about the relationship between the footballers and Nike.” However, the ASA "upheld the complaint" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/20).
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