March 9th, 2022

How the media reacted to the revamped TGA Code of Advertising

Over the past fortnight, many Australians discovered for the first time that advertisements about healthcare products need to abide by a set of rules: the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Code of Advertising. And from 1st July 2022, the updated TGA Code of Advertising will make some significant changes to the way health advertising is done in Australia.

This sudden attention was due to the news circulating about the latest iteration of the TGA Code of Advertising explaining that influencers based in Australia would no longer be able to create paid testimonials for health products that are regulated by the TGA. This means no social media content about health products where the influencer has received payment or free product. Even if they include #sponsored in their post copy or use the “paid partnership” banner on the social media platform.

Using our media monitoring platform Meltwater, we reviewed the media conversations around this subject over the past 30 days.

News Corp published an article nationwide on 1st March 2022 explaining these TGA changes to the public, which amassed hundreds of media mentions. It includes interviews with Australian researchers.

The TGA Code of Advertising has reached mainstream media

Other media outlets reported on the reaction from influencers who currently promote health products will need to abide by the rules set out in the 2021 Code from 1st July. If the content creator has received a sample or valuable consideration, they cannot post about the product on their social media.

Most agreed that tightening the rules around promoting of TGA-registered products is a step in the right direction, to avoid the spread of misinformation, which is rife on social media, which can be dangerous.

Some individuals were disappointed at the inclusion of sunscreen in this update to the Code. In recent times, influencers glamorised using sunscreen to social media users by promoting products in this class, or skincare with SPF. This is especially important in a country like Australia which has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

Hannah English is a Melbourne-based content creator with over 57,000 Instagram followers. She is also a pharmaceutical scientist who became popular for her detailed sunscreen reviews, to encourage her audience to use sunscreen. The new TGA Code of Advertising means she will need to work differently when it comes to sharing her testimonials of sunscreen.

According to a Yahoo Lifestyle article, a third of Australians don’t know if the influencers they follow have any qualifications to back up what they post about, suggesting that the new TGA Code would do more good than harm.

The themes that appeared most frequently across the articles in the media monitoring search are listed below in the word cloud.

We used Meltwater to pull out some Twitter social listening data about how the online community reacted to this update.

Over the past 30 days, there have been 30 original tweets on this subject, and a total of 72 including retweets and quote tweets.

The sentiment on social media was clearly more negative than for traditional media, and the top Twitter authors included a mix of news outlets, high-profile journalists and parliamentarians.

Brands rely heavily on influencer marketing, and influencing is a livelihood for thousands of Australians, so the latest TGA Code of Advertising will impact these individuals. Influencers and healthcare brands will need to be creative when it comes to working together moving forwards.

Read our article about the changes to the TGA Code of Advertising from the 1st of July 2022.

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