Diageo under fire for ‘deceptive’ Cîroc vodka influencer advertising on Instagram

Drinks giant Diageo is under fire for “deceptive” advertising after social media influencers published thousands of promotional posts for Cîroc vodka without openly disclosing their commercial partnerships.

According to an investigation from truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org), as many as 1,700 posts by 50 Instagram influencers promoting Cîroc’s vodka and brandy ranges have violated federal advertising laws in the US.

The campaign group branded the posts as “misleading, adding that they “lack clear and conspicuous disclosures of the influencers’ material connection to the alcohol brand as required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).”

Guardians of the Galaxy actor Mikaela Hoover, rapper Bow Wow, American singer Cassie, and Sean Combs (AKA P. Diddy) have all been found to be in breach of advertising rules.

It said that the celebrities could have complied with regulations by simply inluding the hashtag #ad in their posts.

In addition, TINA.org found that one of the influencers’ posts bypass age-gating technology, which allows “millions of minors with Instagram accounts full access to this type of marketing.”

“It’s time that Diageo starts acting like the responsible corporate citizen it says it is,” TINA.org’s executive director, Bonnie Patten, said. “And if it needs help learning how to comply with the law, TINA.org is confident that the FTC can teach the spirits giant the lessons it needs to learn.”

A Diageo spokesperson told the drinks business: “we have a rigorous marketing code and take our role as a responsible marketer very seriously and have a strong commitment to comply with the FTC’s standards on advertising. We are investigating this as a matter of urgency.”

The new investigation comes less than a year after another TINA.org investigation had called out DJ Khaled for failing to mark alcohol-sponsored social media promotions as ads.

Between June 2017 and March this year, the group cataloged more than 100 instances in which Khaled posted Snapchat stories promoting various alcoholic drinks — including Diageo’s Ciroc vodka, Bacardi’s D’Usse cognac, and Sovereign Brands’ Belaire sparkling wines and Bumbu rum — to Khaled’s more than 6 million Snapchat followers, many of whom are under the age of 21.

In response to the DJ Khaled findings, Diageo said it was “committed to complying with all laws and regulations, including the FTC’s endorsement disclosure guidelines, as well as our rigorous marketing code and policies.”

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