According to The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO), recent reports have incorrectly indicated that: ‘influencers won’t be paid for posts advertising: skincare, sunscreens, protein powders, vitamins, supplements, skincare for acne, medicines and skin lightening products.’
However, the updated TGA does not ban promotion of these items by influencers, rather this brings the rules for influencers in line with all advertising for therapeutic goods; influencers fall under the same long standing TGA requirements as other advertising formats.
The key consideration with regard to application of the code hinges on the interpretation of endorsement versus testimonials, as the latter are banned and have always been for therapeutic goods under the TGA Code.
“I think the media reports incorrectly led people to believe influencers were not able to be paid to promote products in a wide variety of ‘beauty’ fields from sunscreen to protein powders, which isn’t the case. It is simply that influencers must adhere to the same advertising guidelines as all other advertising formats. I think this is a great thing – it shows that influencer marketing is such a prevalent, successful and growing channel that it needs clarity around some of these requirements, just like more traditional mediums like TV. ” says Taryn Williams, founder & CEO of theright.fit, WINK Models & #Gifted.
Advertisers have until 30 June 2022 to transition from the current Code to the 2021 Code. During this 6-month transition period advertisers may apply either the current Code or the 2021 Code. However, the code requires all testimonials that are in breach to be taken down by July 1, 2022.
“I agree that influencers should not be allowed to make unrealistic or unsubstantiated claims about products. For example, before and after photos where they have only used a product for a week or two (if at all) and they give a testimonial is misleading. However, influencers should be able to promote products that they do use and products they believe in.
In regards to a paid for post of a product that is new to you, there is a big difference between being honest and saying you have just started using a product and these are your thoughts so far to a before and after photo or testimonial if you haven’t been using it for a long time” says Ben Lucas, Director of Flow Athletic.
AiMCO stated that the key issue is that brands and influencers need to pay attention to personal testimonials that make therapeutic claims. The issue of endorsements versus testimonials is covered on the TGA website with regard to the 2018 Code, so a key factor for interpretation of the new code will be how this distinction applies to the new code.
Emily Rose Hills, fully supports the recent update to the TGA advertising code.
“Consumer trust within therapeutic goods is critical & this must be protected as we move into a new phase of influencer marketing. Although most consumers are now pretty savvy to influencer marketing, I believe it’s essential that measures are in place to protect consumer purchase decision making, especially within healthcare. So much damage has been done already, and lives irreparably damaged from health advice given by people who are not qualified to do so. In my opinion, this is a significant first step to a more regulated and trustworthy online experience for consumers. If people are unsure of which vitamin, supplement or skin product to purchase, it’s always best to seek advice from someone certified to do so.”
AiMCO Tips for Social Media Influencers
If you are an influencer who is involved with a therapeutic goods company (for example, you have been paid or given a product by the company to promote their goods), you should consider the following tips.
- Any comments you make about your personal experience with therapeutic goods amounts to a testimonial. Testimonials are not permitted by those involved in the production, sale, supply, or marketing of the goods. This includes influencers who are engaged by a therapeutic goods company to promote the goods.
- Understand what the approved purpose of the good is and do not advertise the good for a purpose other than that, even if your experience with the good is otherwise. For more information about the intended purpose of a therapeutic good, see the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
- Seek advice from a lawyer or regulatory affairs consultant if you are unsure about your obligations in relation to social media advertising of therapeutic goods.
- For more information about advertising therapeutic goods, visit the TGA Advertising Hub.