"Research has shown the public regard blogs as the second most reliable source or information after online review sites. This is more than for newspapers, adverts and e-mail marketing. It is therefore no surprise when companies take advantage of this and create what have now been termed a "flog" - a fake blog.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint in respect of a fake weblog on a number of football club related websites.
The blog started "Fellas, have you heard what talksport radio are doing this season. They are recruiting a fan from every club in the premiership and football league to become the voice for their club on their station."
A reader complained that it was not clear that the weblog was placed by talkSPORT radio.
The radio station said that weblog posts on third part sites had not been part of the planned marketing strategy for this initiative. The blog complained of had been posted by a member of staff acting independently. They said they had now taken steps to ensure employees were aware that such actions were not permitted.
The ASA acknowledged that the flog had not been authorised, but nevertheless because it had not been clearly identified as advertising, clauses 7.1 (Misleading) and 22.1 ("Marketers, publishers and owners of other media should ensure that marketing communications are designed and presented in such a way that it is clear that they are marketing communications.") of the CAP Code had been breached.
The ASA has therefore shown that it is prepared to take a tough line on cases of "flogging" that come to its notice in the UK.
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