The sports brand was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a complainant claimed a tweet to promote its Bomba Finale II football boot from the player’s account earlier this year (7 April) was not “obviously identifiable” as an advert.
The tweet read: “The pitches change. The killer instinct doesn’t. Own the turf anywhere. @NikeFootball #myground.” A link for fans to view an advert from the brand was also included in the post.
Nike said the tweet would have left consumers in “no doubt” that it was an advert, claiming its commercial intent was clear. It added the presence of the @NikeFootball Twitter handle meant followers could distinguish between those updates that were adverts and those that were personal.
The ASA said while not all Twitter users would be aware of the Manchester United player’s deal with Nike, it was clear the tweet was part of a marketing campaign.
Last year, Nike was slapped with an ad ban by the regulator for slipping a marketing tweet into Rooney’s Twitter feed without clearly marking it as an advert. The sportswear manufacturer attempted to reverse the landmark ruling at the time by requesting an independent review but failed to get the ban overturned.
The incident came at a time when advertisers lacked guidance on how to incorporate the social media platform into their marketing in accordance to advertising guidelines. High-profile rulings involving brands such as Nike and Snickers in the months since have brought clarity to the issue.
A spokesman for the ASA said there had been a “slight upward” curve in complaints abut promotions on Twitter since 2011, but added the numbers were “very low” in the “grand scheme”.
He added: “We’re not receiving that many complaints about marketing via Twitter. Also, the ASA hasn’t had to ‘uphold’ that many complaints. Following our rulings involving Mars (Snickers) and Nike which generated a lot of publicity and awareness regarding the ad rules surrounding Twitter, and in particular celebrity endorsements, we haven’t had to ban many ads for using Twitter in a misleading way. Help and advice from CAP in this areas has also helped marketers get their ads right.”