Mars faces censure over Twitter Snickers spoof

Mars is facing censure for the controversial tweets sent by celebrities such as Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand promoting Snickers after the advertising watchdog confirmed it had launched a benchmark setting investigation that could see a Twitter campaign banned for the first time.

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The celebrities sent a series of out of character tweets, for example Price on the debt problems in the Eurozone and Ferdinand on knitting, before ending with a picture of themselves eating a Snickers bar with the line “You’re not you when you’re hungry @snickersUk#hungry#spon.

The tweets were crtiticised by followers for not initially revealing that they were promoting the chocolate brand, which led to concerns that the celebrities’ Twitter accounts had been hacked.

The Advertising Standards Authority is investigating whether the @SnickersUK#hungry#spon campaign was misleading because it did not explicitly state it was promotional activity.

Additionally, the regulator is to probe whether the hashtag “#spon” in the final tweet clearly marked it as a marketing communication.

The ASA’s investigation is the first into Twitter since it assumed oversight of social media marketing in 2010 and will be closely watched for precedence. The Office of Fair Trading has previously warned brands that they must make it clear that Tweets are promotional.

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