The Bachelor's Bella Varelis called out for 'deceptive' Instagram trick

The Bachelor's Bella Varelis has been called out by a Celeb Spellcheck copycat page on Tuesday for hiding the fact she was doing a paid promotion for a brand.

Australian influencers must disclose when they're creating paid-for content, with Bella hiding the word "#ad" by placing it directly under her profile picture on her Instagram Stories, making it very difficult for her followers to know the posts were branded.

Bachelor star Bella Varelis instagram lie
Former Bachelor star Bella Varelis has been called out for hiding the fact she was paid to promote an item on Instagram. Photo: Instagram/Bella Varelis

People were only able to see the posts were ads if they held their finger down on the app, pausing the videos to make Bella's profile picture disappear until they lifted their finger again.


Given the word was actually included on the posts, it's unclear if Bella breached the regulations.

The code surrounding influencers was first introduced in 2017 by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA).

Bella shared a number of posts about the brand, hiding the word '#ad' every time. Photo: Instagram/Bella Varelis
Bella shared a number of posts about the brand, hiding the word '#ad' every time. Photo: Instagram/Bella Varelis

Influencers must disclose whether they are getting paid for the post or face a penalty, this could mean prosecution by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for breach of Australian Consumer Law (ACL), according to Triple J Hack.

The maximum fine for an influencer is $220,000 and $1.1 million for a brand. At this stage, no influencer in Australia has been prosecuted for not declaring an ad.

The code is in place to ensure followers are not misled or deceived that a post has been paid for.

Ad Standards wrote last year, "There are no rules in Australia that require you to use #ad or #spon. However, the AANA do recommend using it for paid-for posts as it is a simple way to ensure your followers can distinguish it as advertising."

bachelor Bella including the word '#ad' on other posts
Bella hasn't hid the word '#ad' on other posts. Photo: Instagram/Bella Varelis

Some followers of Celeb Spellcheck believed the posts were "deceptive".

"Honestly you’d be better off not having hidden it at all," one user commented. "Now it’s just deceptive!"

"Ohh that is sneaky!" another commented.

"What a stupid loophole that she’ll try play off!" someone else said. "Irresponsible and silly considering her audience would be young and impressionable and potentially not able to discern the differences between ads and otherwise."

"OMFG how dodgy is she," another added.

"I don’t understand choosing to be an influencer and then not owning up to one of the key factors that allows you to do this as a job - spruiking products…" one user wrote.

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