Influencer posts by Vakili sisters banned for not clearly stating they were ads

Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
·2-min read

Instagram posts by influencer Mandi Vakili and her sister and television personality Anna have been banned for promoting fashion company Select Fashion without being obviously identifiable as ads.

The first post appeared on Mandi Vakili’s page and featured an image of the sisters sitting on a bed with the caption: “It’s been a crazy year! But we have to focus on the positive moments, and me and Anna are over the moon about having a collection with @selectfashion … Set your alarms for 7pm and head over to @selectfashion website or pop in store to check out our collection.”

The second post, on Anna Vakili’s page, featured an image of both sisters with text underneath stating: “Same but different @selectfashion” accompanied by a black heart emoji.

Post by Mandi Vakili for Select Fashion. (ASA/PA)
Post by Mandi Vakili for Select Fashion (ASA/PA)

Both posts appeared in December.

A complainant challenged whether the ads were obviously identifiable as such.

Genus, trading as Select Fashion, said that they had entered into a commercial contract with Mandi and Anna Vakili, which stipulated that any posts promoting their products were to be correctly tagged and identified.

Select Fashion said the agent for Mandi and Anna Vakili confirmed that it was their error that the identifying tag was omitted, and all future ads would be credited if a brand were involved.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it did not receive any response from Mandi or Anna Vakili.

The ASA said it was provided with a copy of the agreement, under which Anna and Mandi Vakili were contracted to post seven Instagram posts and seven Instagram stories each, for which they would be paid a set fee.

The ASA said: “We noted from the agreement that images for the posts were required to be emailed to a particular team for approval prior to the date for posting, and that Select Fashion had the right to request a reshoot of a photograph if they decided that was necessary.

“We also noted the contract stated that images posted on social media were to include the Select Fashion Instagram account and they were to be tagged as a business partner on the post.”

It noted that both posts were tagged to Select Fashion’s Instagram account, however “we considered that was insufficient to ensure the posts were obviously identifiable as ads”.

The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear again and said it had told Select Fashion and Anna and Mandi Vakili “to ensure that, in future, their ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, for example, by including a clear and prominent identifier such as “#ad”.