Style over substance: Wayne Rooney cleared of Nike Twitter plug


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The Independent Online

A tweet posted by Wayne Rooney which plugged a Nike marketing campaign did not break advertising rules because its language was markedly different from the footballer’s usual Twitter messages.

The tweet by the England and Manchester United star stated: “The pitches change. The killer instinct doesn’t. Own the turf, anywhere. @NikeFootball #myground.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a complaint that Rooney’s tweet was “not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication”. Previously the ASA banned a Nike campaign featuring tweets from Rooney, one of its brand ambassadors, because they were not clearly identified as promotional messages.

Sports stars and celebrities have been advised to use the hashtags #spon or #ad to clearly identify paid-for-tweets. But the ASA cleared the Rooney tweet because it was “obviously identifiable as a marketing communication”.

The watchdog accepted Nike’s argument that there was a clear contrast between the footballer’s Nike tweet, one of a series of five over four days, and “Wayne Rooney’s other tweets made around the same time”.

Authentic Rooney tweets from the period in question demonstrate the footballer’s distinctive approach to punctuation and spelling. They include: “Is the masters on tv now cant find it” and “Got sons of anorchy sesaon 5 today. Cant wait to watch it.”

The ASA ruled: “We considered the reference to Nike Football was prominent and clearly linked the tweet with the Nike brand.

“Whilst we considered that not all Twitter users would be aware of Wayne Rooney’s sponsorship deal with Nike or the particular Nike campaign the tweet promoted, we considered that in the particular context of a tweet by Wayne Rooney the wording of the initial statement was such that in combination with @NikeFootball and #myground, the overall effect was that the tweet was obviously identifiable as a Nike marketing communication.”

The ruling represents a victory for Nike, which lost an independent review of the ASA’s decision to ban its previous promotional Rooney tweet: “My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion… #makeitcount”, with a link to

The ASA said readers may not have been aware that Make It Count was the title of a Nike marketing campaign and that Rooney was working for the brand. The ASA had previously cleared Rio Ferdinand over an “out of character” tweet promoting the Snickers chocolate brand because he had included a #spon hashtag.

Wayne’s words: Spot the difference

Regular tweets:

Got sons of anorchy  sesaon 5 today. Cant wait to watch it.

Congrats to gareth bale on winning both awards tonight. I think. Van persie or suarez should of won it though.

What channel is grammys on

Tweeting for Nike:

The pitches change. The killer instinct doesn’t. Own the turf, anywhere. @NikeFootball #myground

Different rules, same philosophy: play your way. @NikeFootball #myground