Instagram star Mrs Hinch is investigated ‘for plugging cleaning products’

Instagram ‘cleanfluencer’ Mrs Hinch is investigated over claims she was paid to plug cleaning products without telling her 2.5million followers

  • Sophie Hinchliffe has found fame and fortune by sharing clean photos online
  • But she is being investigated by the advertising authority over posts this year
  • Authority is investigating whether she failed to declare she was being paid
  • She says she takes the rules seriously and is overcautious about following them 

Sophie Hinchliffe – best known as Instagram ‘cleanfluencer’ Mrs Hinch – is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

Instagram star Mrs Hinch is being investigated over claims she didn’t declare she was being paid to plug cleaning products.

Sophie Hinchliffe has amassed a following of 2.5million on the social network where she posts pictures of her spotless Essex pad and tips on how others can keep their homes as clean as hers.

But her apparent domestic serenity was dealt a blow this week when it emerged she is now the subject of an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Mrs Hinchliffe says she is ‘clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership’ and insists that, if anything, she is ‘overcautious’ about plugging brands.

MailOnline previously reported how the 29-year-old was among the highest earning ‘cleanfluencers’ online, making around £5,000 per post.

She and others like her have ridden a wave of interest that has seen housework become the biggest social media trend of 2019. Her book, Hinch Yourself Happy, even became a bestseller and she is said to be worth around £1million.

But the ASA says three complaints were made about her posts in April and it is investigating claims she was paid to post about Flash and Febreze without declaring she was being paid by their makers Procter & Gamble.

It is understood she has twice before been warned about the rules by the authority. 

The ASA is probing claims she failed to declare products she was being paid to plug. It is unclear which of her Instragram posts are being investigated

The ASA is probing claims she failed to declare products she was being paid to plug. It is unclear which of her Instragram posts are being investigated

It is claimed she promoted Flash and Febreze without declaring she was being paid by their makers Procter & Gamble

It is claimed she promoted Flash and Febreze without declaring she was being paid by their makers Procter & Gamble

The authority has strict rules on how adverts should be labelled and has even produced an ‘influencers guide’ to help those with large social media followings.

The guidance states: ‘Both you (acting as a ‘publisher’) and the brand are responsible for ensuring that advertorial content makes clear that it’s advertising.

‘Ultimately, if it’s not obvious from the context that something’s an ad, more needs to be done with the content to make this clear.’

MailOnline said in a statement that she takes her social media responsibilities ‘very seriously’.

She continued: ‘I only collaborate with those that I genuinely like and would recommend to people.

‘I continue to learn a lot, but feel my community are clear about any content that is part of a commercial partnership, and that which isn’t.

‘In fact, I’m overly cautious when it comes to these guidelines and will continue to be.’

A spokesman for the ASA said: ‘We have received three complaints about Mrs Hinch’s Instagram posts concerning the labelling of ads – where she was posting about products including Flash and Febreze – and are currently investigating. We will publish our decision in due course.’

‘Complaints were received in April this year. Our rules require ads to be clearly labelled as such on social media platforms, including Instagram posts and stories.

‘An ad is any post where there is both payment from and control by a brand.

‘We’re not prescriptive about exact labels, but recommend £ad or similar for clarity.

‘If you’re posting about your own products/services, then this also counts as advertising, even on your own personal channels.’

She has amassed 2.5million followers by posting pictures of her spotless house on Instagram

She has amassed 2.5million followers by posting pictures of her spotless house on Instagram

The ASA said: ‘Advice notices are a way of resolving a potential issue without going down the formal investigation route.

‘Where we consider there are potential problems under our advertising rules, but do not consider the issues raised are so significant as to warrant a full formal investigation, we would contact the advertiser explaining the issues and provide advice and guidance on how to stick to the rules.

‘This was considered the best course of action at the time, but upon receipt of further complaints in April, we decided to launch an investigation.’

What are the rules on ‘influencers’ advertising on Instagram? 

 The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) created a document called ‘An Influencer’s Guide to making clear that ads are ads’.

This body represents advertisers, media owners and agencies and it is responsible for writing the Ad Codes.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s advertising regulator and makes sure ads across UK media stick to the advertising guidelines.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) can take action against people.

Sixteen celebrities have been picked up for their constant breaching of the rules set out by these government bodies.

When content promotes particular products or services and contains a hyperlink or discount code the poster receives payment for every ‘clickthrough’ or sale from that content.

This, therefore, falls under the category of advertising and must be considered as an ad. 

In this instance the user must make clear that only these sections are an ad, but that should be evident.

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