Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Social media influencer Simone Anderson investigated promotion of Covid test

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Social media influencer Simone Anderson is again being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority following a complaint. Photo / Provided

Kiwi’s social media identity, Simone Anderson, is under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority for her promotion of a rapid Covid-19 antigen test on Instagram.

The self-proclaimed entrepreneur, well known for her social media-documented 92kg weight loss, posted Instagram stories last week promoting the Clinitest rapid antigen test (RAT) on behalf of Advance Diagnostics.

In a series of stories posted on Anderson’s 320,000 follower account, Anderson described various features of the test – priced at $57 for five or $11.40 per test.

“I found a place that sells RAT tests with no maximum order quantity and are available with no backorders,” reads one of his stories.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) chief executive Hilary Souter confirmed to the NZ Herald that a complaint had been received about the publication and that it would be assessed if it breached the Therapeutic Advertising Code and ASA Health.

“In our process, the onus is on the advertiser to substantiate claims made in the ad, if challenged through our complaints process,” Souter said.

Simone Anderson.  Photo / Provided
Simone Anderson. Photo / Provided

If the complaint is accepted, Anderson and Advance Diagnostics would be asked to respond within seven days before the ASA Complaints Committee makes a decision.

Anderson was unaware of the complaint when contacted by the Herald today and chose not to comment before discussing the matter with the ASA.

Advance Diagnostics had not yet responded to the Herald’s request for comment.

Since 2020, Simone Anderson had faced the ASA complaints commission nine times.

The ASA has twice ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, including in one case where it was decided that Anderson posted advertising content but not clearly labeled it.

The two key principles of the ASA Code of Health and Therapeutic Advertising were social accountability and truthful presentation.

Anderson’s RAT promotion included a “Paid Partnership” label at the top of each story.

The ad came at a time when RATs were in high demand. Consumer NZ recently found prices to range between $6.50 and $19 per test.

Ben Goodale, founder of strategic and creative marketing agency Quantum Jump, saw stills of Anderson’s post and saw no obvious breaches.

Quantum Jump founder Ben Goodale.  Picture/File
Quantum Jump founder Ben Goodale. Picture/File

He noted that not everyone can access RATs for free and said other retailers sell them at a higher price.

“Price is always buyer beware,” he said.

Goodale, who had more than two decades of advertising experience, acknowledged it was “somewhat dishonest” of Anderson to say she had “found” the tests, but he said that style of marketing was common among social media influencers.

Asked if her history with the ASA would impact the outcome of that complaint, Goodale wasn’t sure, but said repeated complaints would damage her credibility.

“The biggest problem is that she undermines herself,” he said.

“Anyone who is constantly in front of the ASA, if you’re a brand, it basically starts to negatively impact your credibility.”

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