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George Bags A Ban

Television turned social media minor celebrity George Baggs has bagged a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority

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Television turned social media minor celebrity George Baggs has bagged a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The body received two complaints about a post Baggs had made to his TikTok account. The ASA investigated and upheld both complaints.

George Baggs made a post on his TikTok account during June last year. The post featured a short video of him walking towards the camera while holding up a HQD WAVE disposable electronic cigarette still in its packaging.

Text on the video stated “Matching my outfit with my new HQD vape”.

ASA say: “As the video went on, George got dressed while smoking an electronic cigarette while the text underneath the video stated ‘Always get asked to do these sorta vids so here ya go :) #HQDVIP #uk #trending’.”

The complaints alledged that his post breached the Code because it promoted unlicensed nicotine vapes on TikTok, and the video depicts someone with a vape who “appeared to be under 25 years of age.”

HQD Tech Ltd provided the ASA with a copy of their contract with George Baggs and the official brief of his relationship with them.

They said the contract included a clause that required his consent to conform with a platform’s paid product endorsement policies. They said those requirements (known as ‘do’s and don’ts’) stated he was not to prompt non-smokers to trial the product, not to promote smoking generally, or the product as an alternative to cigarettes, and not to use any filters.” HQD Tech told the ASA that all agreed contracts were put in place between George Baggs and his management agency who signed off all content that he produced.

HQD Tech added that while George Baggs was shown with a vaping product and the caption stated “Matching my outfit with my HQD v@pe”, “they did not believe he was encouraging viewers to try the product; there were no links to purchase the product, or information as to where the product could be purchased and the post did not mention the product type, price, instructions for use or flavours. They also said the ad was not targeting specific customers to try the product.”

HQD Tech stated that consumers would find factual information about their products and vaping if they visited the company’s website. HQD also said that “the artistic direction of the content was George Baggs’ responsibility and that of his management.”

Baggs’ agency Off Limits Entertainment said they had contacted HQD Tech and Baggs would not promote any vape campaigns on his social media channels in future.

TikTok said the video did not appear in paid-for ad space and hadn’t been disclosed as paid-for branded content.

TikTok removed public access to the post once it had been informed about the complaint.

It added that its Terms of Service bans the advertising of vape products.

The ASA said: “The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told HQD Tech Ltd t/a HQD Tech UK and George Baggs that marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components which were not licensed as medicines should not be made from a public TikTok account. We also told HDQ Tech that if advertising in media permitted under rule 22.12, they must not show people who are, or seem to be, under 25 years of age, using e-cigarettes or playing a significant role.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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