In the latest high-profile case of Twitter celebrities getting their wrists slapped by the ASA, Keith Chegwin has been sent to the virtual naughty step for not disclosing a promoted tweet he posted some time ago.
The tweet in question, posted at an unspecified time last year (and now deleted), suggested to Chegwin’s followers that they might like to visit a certain gambling website which he was the face of.
I won’t mention their names here, as I’m sure they’re getting plenty of SEO value from the coverage they’re already getting.
Either way though, by posting his tweet without using an ASA-approved hashtag such as #ad or #spon, Cheggers broke one of the ASA’s golden rules.
So, what embarrassing fate will befall the troubled comedian – how will he be punished for this blatant rule-breaking? Perhaps he will be forced to delete his account, or worse, tweet every one of his 100,000+ followers to apologise for abusing their trust?
No, sadly not – the only punishment which has been enforced (and indeed the only real punishment the ASA ever dish out) is the deletion of the tweet in question.
If you visit Chegwin’s Twitter feed today (prepare yourself for some very bad gags) you will notice no mention of the rulings, references to the deleted tweet or indeed any acknowledgement that the entire situation took place – and to be fair to the comedian, he doesn’t have to.
So how effective a punishment is the ASA’s tweet-deletion, in the grand scheme of things?
When I posed that very question on Twitter, the responses were mixed. Most marketers seem to agree that it isn’t really much of a punishment – though some pointed out that the potential embarassment for the celebrity or brand might be enough to put others off in future.
But has Chegwin lost any credibility from the whole affair? I’d say it’s quite unlikely – and let’s face it, there aren’t THAT many people who could put themselves in the same situation where you WOULD lose trust in them, are there?
Perhaps a high profile member of the church, or some other bastion of morals? I guess if the Pope starts putting out sponsored tweets without hashtagging them, we might be a bit shocked?
So what about the brand? Having never heard of the gambling brand in question, I can’t judge whether or not they’ve been harmed – but they’ve certainly got a lot more exposure in the news this morning, and most of it is fairly judgement-free.
Let’s be honest here, can a gambling website really lose any trust/credibility from a ruling like this?
Whilst I realise that the ASA is a watchdog, and I fully support what they are doing in policing these things – the question I have is, shouldn’t they have more power in situations like this?
It wouldn’t require any major changes to the ASA’s remit either – just agreement from the major social networking sites that they would carry out punishments recommended by the ASA, whatever they were.
As usual in Econsultancy guest posts, I’m mindful that I should draw some conclusions for brands from this latest news – and it’s clear that there is an obvious ‘take home message’ for brands (and celebrities) here. The trouble for the ASA is, the advice I’d give to brands in this situation is “Don’t worry too much about this”.
Obviously as a sensible and ethical marketer, I would always recommend to brands that they abide by the ASA recommendations – I completely agree with what they’re trying to achieve and think it is the best thing for the consumer.
But if the brand in question forgot to ask their celebrity to include the #ad in their tweet, and came to me in a panic, my current response would most likely be “Don’t panic, just delete it”.