L'Oreal brand joins influencer marketing body as other Aussie brands found breaching the Code of Ethics

Beauty brand joins AiMCO as part of commitment to elevating transparency of influencer marketing practices as new report from HypeAuditor shows breaches of recently launched code of ethics remain rife

Beauty brand, LÓreal, has become the latest organisation to join the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) as part of efforts to elevate transparency of its influencer marketing practices.

The news comes as a fresh global report highlights a raft of other Australian brands appearing to breach the recently introduced AANA Code of Ethics despite growing legal action against those who don’t follow the guidelines.

In a statement, L’Oreal said the decision to become the AiMCO’s first beauty brand member was about supporting the industry to lift transparency as well as best practices in influencer marketing. The beauty brand will be represented by its director of CX and social media governance, Emma Williamson, as well as its corporate legal counsel, Jenna Adamson.

At a global level, L’Oreal already has a global influencer charter and is recognised for its approach to influencer partnerships.

“Influencer marketing is here to stay. We recognise it is a critical lever in how to engage new audiences, reconnect with our existing consumers and tap into forms of content that drives consumer trial and purchase,” said Williamson. “As an ever-present component in our media mix, it’s crucial that we get influencer marketing right. Consumers are savvy and if we want them to trust our brands, we need to ensure the influencers we work with share our values and are authentic and transparent.”

AiMCO founding member and chair, Detch Singh, welcomed L’Oréal Australia as a member. The industry body was established in late 2019 and now has 40 corporate members as well as a growing influencer membership base.  

“Influencer marketing is core to the media mix and it's natural for leading and innovative brands such as L’Oréal Australia to want to play a role in shaping its future,” Singh said. “The newly formed AiMCO Marketer Advisory council will be essential in ensuring we are addressing the needs of brand marketers with our initiatives moving forward.”  

Other jobs on the priority list for AiMCO include an update to its Code of Practice, first launched in July 2020, to align with the AANA’s Code of Ethics, specifically regarding advertising disclosure. It’s also creating a metrics guide to educate and support marketers, practitioners and influencers.  

According to global estimates, the influencer marketing channel continues to experience rapid growth and is set to exceed $15 billion in advertising spend globally by 2022.

Related: Why the COVID-19 crisis has elevated influencer marketing

Influencer marketing breaches are rife  

As AiMCO works to improve the way Australian brands harness influencer marketing responsibly, a fresh report from HypeAuditor released this week highlighted the top five Australian brands it claims it’s found breaching the AANA Code of Ethics by not clearly disclosing partnerships with #ad, #sponsored or other clear markers.

The AANA Code of Ethics was introduced on 1 February this year and aimed at lifting self-regulation around advertising transparency and honesty.

To date, two influence posts have been reported under the fresh code: An Instagram post by former Bachelor contestant, Anna Heichrich, for Runway the Label; and influencer, Rozalia Russian, for a 14 January Instagram post which showed the former ballerina’s manicured hand holding a container of Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Eau De Parfum. The latter influence is now fighting back against the alleged breach.

However, HypeAuditor claimed many more appeared to be breaching the code including specific posts from Princess Polly, Lounge Underwear and White Fox. The results were based on an analysis of all social media posts with #ad and #sponsored made by Aussie Instagram influencer between March and April 2021. The company claimed out of the 130,000 Instagram accounts from Australia, there were only 2548 posts with brand mentions, from 1366 influencers that had #ad or #sponsored. 

For example, according to HypeAuditor, only four posts out of 215 brand mentions from 155 influencers for Princess Polly used either hashtag, while for Lounge Underwear, only four posts from 106 brand mentions across 94 influencers used either #ad or #sponsored tags.

Rounding out the top five were Esmi Skin minerals, with three posts out of 58 brand mentions from 51 influencers using the tags; and Cotton On body, which was found to have only two posts out of 62 brand mentions from 45 influencers using either hashtag.

In total, these five brands generated 546 mentions from 400 Aussie influencers. Despite 30 per cent of posts (163) being likely sponsored, only 7.9 per cent, or 13 posts, followed the AANA code of ethics by having proper disclosure with #ad and #sponsored.   

While the influencers are getting all the backlash for breaching the code, HypeAuditor CEO and co-founder, Alex Frolov, said the onus should also be on brands to do the right thing by the consumer.

 “Our analysis indicates disclosure of ads for Australian influencers is so far the exception rather than the rule, and it is surprising that only two posts so far have been exposed, from Influencer and former Bachelor winner, Anna Heinrich, and influencer, Rozalia, since the code came into effect in February 2021,” he commented.  

“It seems influencers are the ones in the firing line when it comes to breaching of the code, however the onus should not just be on influencers to do the right thing. More needs to be done by brands to make sure they are aligning with codes and regulation around advertising for the protection of the consumers”.   

HypeAuditor provides AI-powered analytics aimed at transparent influencer marketing, with its platform including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube analytics, as well as a suite of discovery tools and reporting features. Users include Dior, GroupM, Unilever and LÓreal.    

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