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Hogan Lovells Advises Mars on Successful ASA Dismissal of Twitter Ad

09 March 2012

LONDON, 9 March 2012 - Hogan Lovells has supported long-standing client Mars in successfully defending a Twitter marketing campaign for its Snickers bar against complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In January 2012, a number of celebrities including Manchester United football player Rio Ferdinand and model Katie Price, sent a series of tweets as part of a Snickers marketing campaign. The ASA received two complaints that the postings were not obviously identifiable as adverts.

The ASA agreed with Hogan Lovells' argument presented on behalf of Mars that the combination of initial teaser tweets posted in quick succession without referencing a product, combined with the final tweet clearly identifying "@snickersuk #hungry #spon…" meant that consumers would understand that the series of tweets were adverts for the purposes of the CAP Code. This is the first ASA investigation involving Twitter. The ruling in favour of Mars may well result in an increasing number of brands using similar Twitter campaigns.

Richard Welfare, head of the London Advertising and Marketing team at Hogan Lovells, advised Mars.

Commenting on the decision, Richard said:

"We are delighted to have been able to secure this ruling on behalf of our long-standing client Mars.  The ASA agreed that the manner in which the Snickers tweets were sent made it clear to the consumer that they were advertising and that each series of tweets was a marketing communication. It was therefore acceptable that the first tweets in the series were not individually identified as being part of the Mars marketing campaign.

The ASA has given a very clear view as to what constitute marketing communications, in the context of an innovative Twitter advertising campaign run by Mars."

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