Rio Ferdinand reprimanded by Advertising Standards Authority over PlayStation sponsored posts

The Advertising Standards Authority has reprimanded former England star and football pundit Rio Ferdinand for failing to properly disclose that a series of Twitter posts made in partnership with PlayStation were advertisements.

The now-deleted Tweets included a video of Ferdinand discussing the upcoming Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, with the accompanying next: “Here’s who I think will be taking home the [trophy emoji] … Class Day down at #PlayStationHouse ahead of the #UCLFinalv … @PlayStation #PlayStationPartner.”

A second Tweet included a series of images showing Ferdinand take part in various activities at PlayStation House, which appears to be a popup social event for influencers ahead of the Champions League final.

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Sony had argued, through its media agency, that it told Ferdinand’s team to include “#ad” to posts about the event, but Fedrinand’s representatives said their contract only told them to write “#PlayStationPartner” as an indication the messages were adverts.

Sony also pointed out the video prominently featured a PlayStation-branded studio, and that the format, of Mr Ferdinand being interviewed by a professional video gamer about the upcoming Champions League final, made it obvious it was not independently created content, but rather collaborative content created for marketing purposes.

It also highlighted that the video contained PlayStation and Champions League logos on-screen for its duration.

However, the ASA was not convinced. The use of the “#PlayStationPartner” tag was insufficient as the ASA did not consider it a “clear acknowledgment of the commercial relationship between Mr Ferdinand and Sony”.

“[W]e concluded that they should have been clearly labelled as ads, and we therefore concluded that they breached the Code.”

As such, the ads must not appear again and any future ads should be clearly identifiable, such with a #ad tag.

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