Watchdog Bans Elf Bar and HQD Vape Ads on Tiktok
The world of social media is constantly evolving, and with it comes new challenges for advertisers and regulators. In this article, we’ll explore the recent ban on two TikTok posts promoting vapes by Elf Bar and HQD Tech, and why the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deemed them inappropriate for the platform. Let’s dive in!
The Controversial TikTok Posts
Elf Bar’s Blueberry Breakfast
The first post in question came from the account @Panaxhe_, showing a young man choosing a blueberry-flavoured Elf Bar for breakfast. Later in the day, he returns to the fridge stocked with colourful vapes and selects a kiwi passionfruit option for lunch. Despite its innocent appearance, this post caught the attention of the ASA.
George Baggs’ HQD Wave Ad
The second post featured George Baggs, a former Gogglebox star, who was 19 when he posted the ad. Baggs is seen holding an HQD Wave disposable electronic cigarette in its packaging, with text stating: “Matching my outfit with my new HQD v@pe.” As he gets dressed while smoking the vape, the text reads: “Always get asked to do these sorta vids so here ya go ? #HQDVIP #uk #trending.”
The ASA’s Investigation
The ASA investigated both posts to determine if they violated advertising rules by promoting unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes on TikTok, and featuring George Baggs, who was under 25 years old. In the UK, there are strict rules on promoting vaping products to prevent irresponsible marketing and ads targeting young people.
TikTok’s Compliance Issues
TikTok has an age rating of 13+ and is widely used by children much younger than that. The promotions for Elf Bar and HQD products seemed to openly disregard the established rules for advertising vaping products.
The Companies’ Responses
Elf Bar’s Response
Green Fun Alliance, trading as Elf Bar, said they had contacted the content creator and TikTok, requesting the removal of the post. Elf Bar also announced plans to improve their internal review and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. As a result of the complaint, Elf Bar has stopped TikTok content and communications marketing in the UK.
HQD Tech’s Response
HQD Tech claimed they did not believe Mr. Baggs encouraged viewers to try the product. They removed all content posted by Mr. Baggs until the ASA investigation concluded and took additional steps to prevent targeting younger audiences.
TikTok stated that the Elf Bar post violated their branded content policy and community guidelines, and had been removed from the platform. The HQD Tech post also breached their terms of service, which prohibits advertising cigarettes, tobacco products, and e-cigarettes.
The ASA’s Ruling
The ASA ruled that the HQD Tech ad was not permitted on TikTok because anyone using e-cigarettes or playing a significant role must neither be, nor appear to be, under 25. They also ruled that the Elf Bar ad must not appear again and advised Green Fun Alliance against promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components from a public TikTok account.
The case of Elf Bar and HQD Tech’s TikTok ads demonstrates the importance of responsible advertising and adhering to platform guidelines. As the world of social media continues to change, it is crucial for companies and influencers to stay informed and adapt to shifting regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why were the TikTok posts promoting vapes banned?
The ASA banned the posts because they violated advertising rules by promoting unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes on TikTok, and featuring an influencer under 25 years old.
- What are the UK’s rules on promoting vaping products?
The UK has strict rules on promoting vaping products to prevent irresponsible marketing and ads targeting young people. Those using e-cigarettes or playing a significant role in promotions must neither be, nor appear to be, under 25.
- How did Elf Bar and HQD Tech respond to the ASA’s investigation?
Elf Bar contacted the content creator and TikTok to remove the post, improved their internal review mechanisms, and stopped TikTok marketing in the UK. HQD Tech removed all content posted by George Baggs during the investigation and took additional steps to ensure younger audiences were not targeted.
- What was TikTok’s stance on the banned vape ads?
TikTok stated that both the Elf Bar and HQD Tech posts violated their policies and guidelines, and both were removed from the platform.
- How can companies and influencers avoid similar issues in the future?
Companies and influencers should stay informed about advertising regulations and platform guidelines, ensuring they follow the rules and create responsible content that doesn’t target vulnerable audiences.