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ISBA launches code of conduct for influencer marketing

ISBA, the representation and advocacy body for UK advertisers, has today launched a Code of Conduct for influencer marketing, aimed at raising standards, smoothing relationships between industry participants, and delivering transparency for consumers.

The Code has been driven by ISBA members who wanted to address the negative issues surrounding influencer marketing. It was designed in collaboration with representatives from talent agencies and a group of influencers – and the aim is that it will become an industry standard.

The Code is not a new set of rules and regulations but is a guide to best practice in influencer marketing. It contains commitments from brands, agencies, and talent. This comes the same day as IARD released its global standards for alcohol promotion for influencers

The Code aims to:

· Deliver the transparency consumers expect and deserve – by being clear on the need to disclose when an ad is an ad (and how); by committing not to use photo filters and misleading editing techniques; and by meeting obligations to protect children and vulnerable groups

· Enable authentic and effective influencer marketing – by backing influencers to deliver their honest opinion on products; supporting their wellbeing, from mental to financial health; and always promoting diversity and inclusion, with zero tolerance for hateful content

· Improve brand/agency/talent relationships – by setting out how all participants will work collaboratively on campaigns; agencies committing to play a key role in aligning brands and talent; and with clarity from brands on KPIs and from influencers on helping demonstrate ROI

While not a binding legal document, the Code could be appended to legal contracts. As it launches, brands from across ISBA’s membership, talent agencies, and influencers have agreed to adhere to the Code – in the hope that others across industry will follow suit.

The code complements the template contracts ISBA published in 2018, which will now be updated in line with the Code of Conduct.

ISBA’s Director-General, Phil Smith, said:

“Influencer marketing is a powerful tool. In a world where advertising has suffered from a loss in trust, and where consumers are more likely to believe in the recommendations of a peer or ‘someone like me’, influencer campaigns offer the

chance for individuals, agencies, and brands to work together, using new platforms to reach audiences in engaging ways.

“At its best, influencer marketing allows for authentic, personalised ads, delivered in a transparent way. However, if done incorrectly, it can cause reputational damage to influencers and brands alike.

“There is no excuse for failing to disclose when an ad is an ad, or for misleading consumers with photo editing. Equally, influencers often face real challenges when it comes to financial flows and mental health. Meanwhile, brands know influencer marketing can be effective, but struggle to demonstrate ROI.”

Jill Dougan, ISBA Executive Committee Chair and Customer Director, British Gas Energy said:

“As marketing continues to evolve, it is vital we keep pace with new marketing channels and ensure they are being used honestly and authentically. Influencer marketing is a great way to reach and engage with customers but until now there has not been a common code that everyone involved adheres to.

“The ISBA Code of Conduct will be a valuable tool to anyone involved in influencer marketing.”

Scott Guthrie, Director General of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body (due to launch this year), said:

“The number of influencer platforms and agencies has exploded over the past five years, from 190 to 1,360 worldwide. It’s inevitable that whilst most incumbents are good actors, there will be some who do not act in good faith. Marking yourself out as one of the good guys starts with accountability. Signing up to this code demonstrates that commitment to accountability. The Influencer Marketing Trade Body is dedicated to securing a sustainable, professional future for influencer marketing. We welcome ISBA’s code and are pleased to have been part of its review proces