Australian influencers are promoting luxury car loans to their young audiences – and they may be violating ACCC guidelines
- Australian influencers post through a luxury auto loan company along with photos of them with flashy new luxury vehicles.
- However, the relationship between the company and the influencers is not clear as both parties interact but with no apparent disclosure.
- Promoting luxury car loans without balanced information or using short-lived services like Instagram Stories may violate financial product promotion guidelines proposed by the Australian Consumer Authority.
- Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.
Just before New Year’s Eve, Mitch Third celebrated.
In an Instagram post on December 30, the Gold Coast resident posted to his 24,000 followers about “the most challenging year of my life” with an accompanying photo of the entrepreneur and former professional rugby player leaning against a high-end Tesla Model X.
The exact photo was posted on another account of the luxury car and home loan broker Finance Your Way under the tag “Third Party”.
“Enjoy the car, Mitch!” Read the caption.
Third’s account commented, “Thanks to the team, great experience! Can’t recommend “enough” with a few emojis.
This interaction is one of the few that has involved a handful of popular Australian influencer accounts and Finance Your Way in the final weeks of 2020.
Mitchell Orval (289,000 followers), Troy Candy (141,000 followers) and his partner Anita Cassin (53,000 followers) have all either posted on Instagram or were tagged in posts on the brokerage account in December.
However, it is unclear whether these influencers paid to promote the brand or received services.
Finance Your Way did not respond to an interview request from Business Insider Australia.
Both Third and Candy told Business Insider Australia that they had personal connections with the brokerage company. Third said he paid the standard fees on his loan, Candy didn’t respond to additional questions about their relationship, and Orval didn’t respond to a media query.
The unclear nature of what disclosing a business relationship entails means that it is unclear whether it was sponsored content, a favor for a friend, or just an authentic and impartial endorsement.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned authors in the past not to Clearly mark sponsored content or expect possible penalties. But until last year they had never punished a Creator for not doing this.
In the posts, the influencer and brokerage accounts sometimes interact with each other, mark each other or comment to thank the brokerage.
None of the influencer’s posts directly recommends taking out a loan, but rather vouches for the service.
There are no rules or laws against a person using their platform to propose a friend’s business. However, the amalgamation of a creator’s personal life and their social media accounts – which are advertising platforms in every way – can make it difficult for their audiences to distinguish between what is paid and what is not.
And some have raised eyebrows at the influencers targeting younger audiences with advertisements in order to raise luxury car loans.
Host of the Australian podcast Pronounced, Amy, Sophie and Kate Taeuber – who first drew attention to the influencers promoting Finance Your Way in a January 4th episode – expressed concerns about the broker’s business model.
“While I find it irresponsible to lend young people this way, it is a very smart business move,” said one host.
“[Their audience] are young children who want to live this influencer lifestyle. So these men put these posts out and say, ‘You can live this lifestyle just by taking out a loan.’ “
In addition, none of the posts explicitly discuss the terms of the loans: length, interest rates, or other qualifying factors.
Failure to provide a balanced account while promoting a loan could violate ACCC recommendations.
An ACCC spokesperson declined to comment on the business practices, but referred Business Insider Australia to the Commission’s voluntary guidelines on promoting financial services:Promoting Financial Products and Services (Including Credit): Best Practice Guide“.
Additionally, Third’s use of the ephemeral Instagram story feature to showcase their purchase may also violate another recommended aspect of best practice.
“Organizers should examine the appropriateness of using new media channels for advertising if there is not enough space for balanced information due to content restrictions,” it says.
But these guidelines are mere suggestions and violating them would not risk any sanctions from the ACCC.
Right now, these influencers are free to promote some way for their audience to live like them, even if they don’t have thousands of followers themselves.
And these consumers will certainly pay the bill themselves.
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