YouTuber KSI ad for JD Sports banned by watchdog

An Instagram post by YouTuber KSI promoting JD Sports has been banned after he failed to clearly mark it as an ad.

KSI, real name Olajide “JJ” Olatunji, whose Instagram account has 12.7 million followers, posted the stylised video set to music of himself and others at a bowling alley in November.

It included close-up shots of trainers as well as a shot of KSI drawing attention to his shoes, while the others in the ad were wearing branded sportswear. It ended with a shot of the JD Sports logo under text stating: “King of the Game.”

A still from the ad posted by KSI promoting JD Sports (ASA/PA)
A still from the ad posted by KSI promoting JD Sports (ASA/PA)

The caption underneath the video stated: “Head over to the @jdofficial YouTube channel to watch the full length film #kingofthegame”, and tagged “jdofficial” and “@adidasoriginals”.

JD Sports said viewers would have known the post was an ad, and understood it therefore did not need to be labelled as such.

The retailer confirmed that KSI had been contracted to post ads on their behalf, and the ad in question had been produced with their approval.

KSI told the ASA that he believed the references to JD Sports made it clear to consumers that the video was an excerpt from a TV ad in which he had featured.

However, upon notification of the complaint, he included ‘#ad’ in the post’s caption in order to “mitigate any risk of consumers being misled”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “We welcomed Mr Olatunji’s assurances that the post had been amended to include ‘#ad’.

“However, at the time the ad was originally seen, the commercial intent behind the post was not made clear upfront and the ad was not obviously identifiable as such.

“We therefore concluded that it breached the Code.”

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again, adding: “We told JD Sports and KSI to ensure that in future their ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and made their commercial intent clear upfront, for example, by including a clear and prominent identifier such as ‘#ad’.”

A JD spokeswoman said: “We note the ASA’s decision and acknowledge our responsibility around content paid for by JD and those of influencer partners under the advertising code.”