Solicitors highlight the downside of Twitter

Published: 8 Jun 2015 09:30


FOLLOWING a high profile court case for Diageo’s Guinness ® UK brand, a Scottish legal firm is warning businesses to make sure they aren’t breaching advertising regulations when they update their social media feeds.

Miller Hendry describes social media as “a colossus” and says controlling its use is a real issue for businesses.

Its reminder follows the news that Diageo’s Guinness® UK brand has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of implying that alcohol could improve a person's week, after a tweet on the brand's social media account was branded “irresponsible”.

Alcohol Concern filed a complaint with the ASA when @GuinnessGB tweeted a photograph of the brewery gates with the caption, “a good week starts here” as part of a promotional campaign to champion the people working at the brewery.

The tweet was challenged as breaching the responsible advertising code, but the ASA decided that consumers would not confuse the brewery gates with a bar or other social venue where alcohol was consumed.

But Miller Hendry says the complaint has acted as a reminder to businesses to tighten up their social media policies to make sure they don’t breach advertising regulations, as the boundaries between paid-for advertising and other forms of communication become more blurred.

Alan Matthew, a partner and employment law specialist at Miller Hendry, said: "Social media has become a colossus and controlling its use is a real issue for businesses that want to make sure the benefits outweigh the problems. It’s a medium that relies on speed of response and short, pithy comments, and that’s precisely why it’s very difficult to manage.

“It’s all too easy to have someone keen to keep the chat going, without thinking about what they are stepping into, such as in Diageo’s case. There is also the problem of employees being too quick to voice their own opinions and land their employer in hot water. Social media usage by commercial organisations needs constant review and clarification within a business’s marketing strategy and terms of employment.”

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