Rio Ferdinand: ex-Leeds United, Man Utd & West Ham star reprimanded over Twitter posts

The slap on the wrist comes in lieu of Twitter’s policy on hashtagging advertising content

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Rio Ferdinand has found himself in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a number of his Twitter posts were not tagged as adverts. Twitter and Instagram policy for any content that is advertorial is that it should be hashtagged “advert” or “ad,” after a number of personalities on the platform promoted products they were being paid to sponsor.

The tweets showed the former West Ham, Leeds United and Manchester United player turned football pundit playing a  PlayStation with his ex-Red Devils teammate Patrice Evra. Another post showed a series of pictures of Ferdinand taking part in challenges at PlayStation House, a specially created venue in Paris for the Champions League final.

But an anonymous tip off to the ASA, complaining about how the posts were not identified as advertorial, was upheld by the advertising watchdog and Ferdinand was warned similar posts must not appear again on his social media account, unless clearly marked with an "ad" hashtag.

Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Ltd that makes PlayStations and ran the event, was also handed a slap on the wrist. Sony claimed that through its media agency, it told Ferdinand’s team to include "#ad" to posts about the event, but the former defender’s representatives said their contract only told them to write #PlayStationPartner” as an indication the messages were adverts.

But the ASA judgement read: "We concluded that they [the tweets] should have been clearly labelled as ads, and we therefore concluded that they breached the code. We told Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Ltd and Rio Ferdinand to ensure that in future their ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and made clear upfront their commercial intent, for example, by including a clear and prominent identifier such as ‘#ad’.

"We did not consider that tagging the posts with ‘#PlayStationPartners’ or ‘PlayStationHouse’ amounted to a clear acknowledgment of the commercial relationship between Mr Ferdinand and Sony, which would be immediately understandable to a consumer," the ASA concluded.