An Instagram giveaway run by Molly-Mae Hague broke advertising rules - here’s what happened

The UK’s advertising watchdog has cracked down on ITV’s Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague for a second time, after she failed to follow Instagram competition guidelines.

The competition for the chance to win a prize of goods worth £8,000 included some of her own brand’s merchandise.

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So, how did she fail to conduct herself in line with rules for competitions on social media, and has she responded? This is what you need to know.

Why is Molly-Mae Hague famous?

Hague was a contestant on ITV’s reality relationship show, Love Island.

The 21-year-old came runner up in the 2019 series, with then boyfriend Tommy Fury.

She has gone on to be the face of several brands, including online retail giant PrettyLittleThing and hair styling brand, Beauty Works.

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Hague has also launched her own tanning products, ‘Filter’, which she regularly advertises on her social media.

The Love Island star and influencer has an audience of over five million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million followers on YouTube.

What was the Hague’s Instagram competition for?

The competition was announced in September 2020, on Hague’s Instagram.

It was used to thank her fans for helping her to achieve one million YouTube subscribers, and entry to the competition required entrants to take three actions:

- like the Instagram post involved

- tag a friend, to help attract their attention

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- ensure they had subscribed to her main Instagram channel, that of her cosmetics brand, and her YouTube channel

The winner would be gifted five Louis Vuitton products including bags and purses, an Apple Watch and three bottles of her own brand’s tanning products.

On the Instagram post in which she advertised the competition, she wrote: “THIS IS MY CRAZY GIVEAWAY!!!

“The thought of one of you winning all these prizes makes me so happy, I can’t wait to see who wins!


How did she fail to meet the requirements attributed to Instagram competitions?

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The original post was liked nearly 1.2 million times and attracted almost three million comments.

Hague told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that she was overwhelmed by the number of people who took part in the competition.

The ASA received twelve complaints about whether all entrants would be given a fair chance at winning.

They challenged whether Hague had included all of the entrants in the draw and whether the winner would be chosen anonymously.

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Hague explained that a member of her management team had manually selected 100 entrants at random and assigned each a number. The ASA said she then had someone else use Google's number-picking tool to choose a winner from the 100 shortlisted entrants.

However, the regulator found that a subsequent Instagram story posted by Hague after the competition's close stated that the winner had been picked from a smaller group of 25 entrants.

The ASA said: "We were concerned by the inconsistencies” and "the promotion was not administered fairly.”

It stated that Hague had failed to provide any evidence that the shortlisted group had been chosen randomly.

Is this the first time she has been reprimanded by the watchdog?

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Ms Hague has previously had another advertising complaint upheld, as one of a string of influencers who have failed to notify their followers when they are advertising content which they have been paid for.

In September 2019, she shared a photo in which she was wearing clothes sold by her collaborators, PrettyLittleThing.

The photo was captioned: "A/W, I'm ready", and the official Instagram account for Pretty Little Thing was also tagged.

However, complaints were upheld as she is a brand ambassador for the retailer and in accordance with her contract, any advertising for the company has to be clearly identifiable.

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Hague and the clothing company claimed she had not been paid for that specific post, arguing it had been uploaded to her social media “organically”.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that future posts made by her must include phrases such as "#ad", so as followers are aware of why she is endorsing the brand.

How has she responded to the watchdog’s conclusions?

The Instagram influencer has not responded to requests for comment about the ASA’s decision on her competition failing to meet standards.

However, it has been suggested that she is being used as an example to other influencers that they must comply with guidelines and regulations.

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Nick Breen from law firm Reed Smith told the BBC: "Targeting someone like Molly-Mae sends a message to other influencers, who may have smaller followings, to remind them that they are under the same requirements as any other brand.

"So, as they do more sophisticated campaigns - beyond copying and pasting marketing from an advertiser - they need to take even more care."

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