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McDonald’s hit with breach of advertising rules over Instagram mix-up

McDonald’s breached advertising rules when a radio host failed to specify whether an Instagram post was sponsored or not, according to Mumbrella.

Andrew Costello, host of the SAFM brekkie show in Adelaide, posted an image of himself and his kids celebrating McDonald’s 50th birthday in South Australia by eating McDonald’s and wearing Peter Alexander-McDonald’s pyjamas.

Users complained that the post didn’t verify whether it was paid for or not, which prompted an investigation by Ad Standards. The post has since been removed on McDonald’s request.

According to McDonald’s, it didn’t pay for the post, didn’t request it, and doesn’t have a commercial relationship with Costello individually – though it is a sponsor of his employer, SAFM. It had sent the products to the host as a “gesture of goodwill and to support SAFM”, and argued that what he did on his Instagram was “outside of McDonald’s reasonable control”.

Ad Standards deemed the post was advertising despite this lack of commercial control on the basis that Costello was motivated to publish it due to the fact they were a sponsor of his employer, had sent him products, and that, if a McDonald’s competitor had sent products, he would be less likely to post about them given McDonald’s relationship with his employer.

As such, the post was in breach of advertising standards.

McDonald’s said it is disappointed in the decision, but that it ultimately respects Ad Standard’s decision and that it takes its advertising seriously.

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