The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that 30,000 followers on social media is the number you need to hit, in order to call yourself a celebrity.
The ASA has decided that 30,000 followers is enough to force influencers to adhere to CAP Code, a set of rules that apply to non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing in the UK.
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The ruling was made in response to an Instagram post by family blogger and vlogger thismamalife. The post featured a photo of the blogger smiling in bed next to a packet of Phenergan Night Time tablets. The image was captioned:
“[AD] Sleep. Who needs more of it? I’m really lucky in that I don’t actually need a lot of sleep to get by and manage to cram all sorts into my evening, being the night owl I am. Every now and again though, daily life can get a bit overwhelming and I often find it’s my sleep that ends up suffering. I end up going to bed even later than I usually do and am not able to fall asleep. The worry of not sleeping then adds to it all and I end up a complete and utter zombie!! Last time this happened I tried out Phenergan Night Time, which really helped. It is a pharmacy only, short term solution to insomnia for adults which works by inducing a sleepy effect thanks to its active ingredient, promethazine hydrochloride, helping you to sleep through the night. Do you guys fall asleep easily or are you night time over thinkers like me? #AD #sleep”
The ASA launched an investigation in response to the post, as CAP Code dictates that marketers cannot use celebrities to endorse medicines in the UK.
Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company that paid the influencer to market the sleeping pills, argued that thismamalife’s follower count is nothing compared to verified celebrities such as Stephen Fry and David Beckham, and that 30,000 followers does not constitute a celebrity.
However, the ASA decided that “over 30,000 followers indicated that she had the attention of a significant number of people”, and given that thismamalife was popular with such a large audience, she should be considered a celebrity for the purposes of the CAP Code.
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The ASA ultimately ruled that “because we considered that thismamalife was a celebrity for the purpose of the CAP Code, and as she had endorsed a medicine, we concluded that the ad had breached the code”.