The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld claims made against a series of Instagram posts promoting Klarna Bank’s deferred payment services.
The ASA on Wednesday ruled that Klarna could not show a series of adverts made with Instagram influencers that links using Klarna’s credit service with improving someone’s mood.
While the first stages of the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in April and May this year, Klarna engaged a number of Instagram influencers with paid advertising to discuss using its services to improve their mood during lockdown.
The ASA received a complaint from the Labour MP Stella Creasy that the promotional Instagram posts were irresponsible for encouraging the use of Klarna’s deferred payment service to help people lift their low mood whilst the nation was under lockdown.
Klarna said it believed the four adverts complied with the CAP Code and were not irresponsible, and said the key theme was to take care of one’s self during the coronavirus lockdown period.
They said the ads were intended to highlight that self-care, skincare routines and pampering could be beneficial for improving one’s mental health and staying entertained during the lockdown period.
Where references to lifting one’s mood were made, Klarna said these were in reference to using a beauty product or taking care of one’s self.
The Swedish bank argued that the posts did not infer that using Klarna lightened one’s mood. Klarna confirmed that the four Instagram posts were the result of a paid engagement with each influencer.
Klarna went on to add that during the lockdown period they were sensitive to the tone of the influencers’ posts, removed all commercial calls to action and asked them to focus on contributing in positive ways to their community.
The buy now, pay later-specialist also highlighted that the call to action in the three posts was not to use Klarna’s services, but to highlight a competition which gave consumers the opportunity to win £500 worth of beauty products.
The ASA upheld the complaints made against Klarna, stating that in the context of the national restrictions, all four of the adverts “made references to purchasing beauty or clothing items to help with ‘lifting’ or ‘boosting’ one’s mood during the pandemic and lockdown, in association with Klarna.”
“We acknowledged that purchasing non-essential items was likely to be a source of comfort for some people during the national lockdown,” the ASA said.
“However, each ad promoted the use of Klarna’s deferred payment services, and we considered that the respective influencers had linked buying beauty or clothing products through this service with enhancing their mood during an uncertain and challenging period, when many people were experiencing difficult circumstances and isolation during the lockdown, including financial concerns and mental health problems,” the ASA added.
The ASA concluded that in the context of the challenging circumstances caused by the lockdown at the time, including impacts on people’s financial and mental health, the ads irresponsibly encouraged the use of credit to improve people’s mood, breaching its Committee of Advertising Practice Code for social responsibility.