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ASA Rules on Vaporesso Ads

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints made about adverts placed on TikTok by vape company Vaporesso

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The Advertising Standards Authority has investigated complaints made about adverts placed on TikTok. The social media posts promoted Vaporesso brand e-cigarettes on the accounts of “influencers” Ethan Overton and Lucky Ben. Ultimately, the Authority upheld the complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority said a TikTok post from the account of Ethan Overton (@ethanovertonn), “showed a box containing a Vaporesso LUXE XR e-cigarette being opened. The audio stated, ‘So today a little random present came through the door. This is the Vaporesso XR, and this isn’t just your standard reusable vape. In the package it comes with an extra pod, charging cable and of course the vape itself. It’s up to you what flavour you want to pick, and whether you want it to be a tobacco liquid or not [...] Very nifty bit of kit. […] The Vappresso Luxe XR. Link in bio’. Text at the bottom of the video stated “#ad #vaporesso #luxex #vaporessoluxe”. TikTok’s “Paid Partnership” label was seen beneath the hashtags.”

A complaint had also been made about a post from the account of Lucky Ben (@luckyyben), posted on 10 April 2023.

The ASA said: “The video showed Lucky Ben and a friend discussing the Vaporesso LUXE XR e-cigarette, including saying, ‘It’s got the leak resistant technology audio and it’s got the coil compatibility’ and ‘Flavour boosting […] This is new on the market right now […] Check the link in the bio, people.’ The speech also appeared as on screen text. Text at the bottom of the video stated @Vaporesso #vaporesso #luxexr #vaporessoluxexr.”

Vaporesso told the Advertising Standards Authority that both posts had been removed.

TikTok informed the Advertising Standards Authority that the first post was marked Branded Content and wasn’t a paid-for advert and confirmed that it’d been removed. It said the second post was User Generated Content and the user had not engaged the Branded Content toggle – and Lucky Ben had deleted his post.

CAP Code rule 22.12 prohibits the advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing vapes on TikTok, restricting their advertising to media targeted exclusively to the trade.

It further stated that factual claims about products were permitted on marketers’ own websites and, in certain circumstances, in other non-paid-for space online under the marketer’s control.”

The Advertising Standards Authority said: “We considered whether TikTok was an online media space where such advertising, using factual claims only, was permitted. We understood that, while promotional content was prohibited on retailers’ own websites, rule 22.12 specified a particular exception that the provision of factual information was not prohibited. The basis of the exception to the rule was because consumers had to specifically seek out that factual information by visiting the website. The Guidance stated that, in principle, there was likely to be scope for the position relating to factual claims being acceptable on marketers’ websites, to apply to some social media activity. A social media page or account might be considered to be analogous to a website and able to make factual claims if it could only be found by those actively seeking it.

We considered that material from a public TikTok account was not analogous to a retailer’s own website, and that material posted from such an account was therefore subject to the prohibition on advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, meaning that neither promotional nor factual content was permitted.

We considered that advertising content from the @ethanovertonn and @luckyyben TikTok accounts was similarly not analogous to a retailer’s own website and that material posted from those accounts was therefore subject to the prohibition on advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, meaning that the restriction that applied to online media under rule 22.12 was applicable, and neither promotional nor factual content was permitted.”

The Authority says that the brand sending e-cigarettes to influencers constitutes payment and that the hashtags used “indicated that the posts were part of a wider and coordinated marketing approach”.

The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the posts were adverts that promoted e-cigarettes in non-permitted media and therefore breached the Code. It instructed Vaporesso that the ads must not appear again and “that marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components that were not licensed as medicines should not be made from a public TikTok account.”

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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