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BBC forced to crack down on Dragon’s Den stars ‘after they breach rules’ by plugging discount codes to flog their products after shows


Entrepreneurs appearing on Dragons’ Den have been of warned of the BBC’s editorial guidelines after using the show to promote their businesses.

The corporations’ guidelines state any product placements or endorsements must be clearly disclosed and editorially justified before appearing on air. 

But Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs have been using the show as a platform to market their products and even offering discount codes to refer to the show immediately after their appearance. 

Last month,  Giselle Boxer, 31, from Sheffield,  got an offer from all six Dragons, after appearing on the show.

After taking an offer of 50,000 for 12.5 per cent of the business – from Steven Bartlett, 31, she immediately shared a post to Instagram, offering customers 15 per cent off with code ‘Dragon’.

Meanwhile,  Jasmine Wicks-Stephens, who secured a £60,000 investment for her skincare brand Faace, also posted a 15 per cent off Dragons’ Den offer online.

Planthood, who secured an offer on last year’s series, also offer a discount online with code ‘Dragons’, while Flora Tea, who featured on the show more than a decade ago still use a Dragons’ Den discount code on their website.

A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We have clear guidelines for contestants and their commercial activity while working with us. We have reminded entrepreneurs of these guidelines’.

Last month, Giselle Boxer, 31, from Sheffield, got an offer from all six Dragons , after appearing on the show. After taking an offer of 50,000 for 12.5 per cent of the business - from Steven Bartlett , 31, she immediately shared a post to Instagram, offering customers 15 per cent off with code 'Dragon'

Last month, Giselle Boxer, 31, from Sheffield, got an offer from all six Dragons , after appearing on the show. After taking an offer of 50,000 for 12.5 per cent of the business – from Steven Bartlett , 31, she immediately shared a post to Instagram, offering customers 15 per cent off with code ‘Dragon’

 

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens, who secured a £60,000 investment for her skincare brand Faace, also posted a 15 per cent off Dragons' Den offer online

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens, who secured a £60,000 investment for her skincare brand Faace, also posted a 15 per cent off Dragons’ Den offer online

Planthood, who secured an offer on last year's series, also offer a discount online with code 'Dragons'

Planthood, who secured an offer on last year’s series, also offer a discount online with code ‘Dragons’

Food delivery service Stocked, who appeared on the show last week, also have a Dragons' Den Bundle

Food delivery service Stocked, who appeared on the show last week, also have a Dragons’ Den Bundle

BBC’S GUIDELINE ON PRODUCT PLACEMENT 

Product placement is the inclusion of, or a reference to, a product or service in return for payment or any consideration in kind. The taking of product placement for licence fee funded services is prohibited under the terms of the BBC Agreement. The BBC must not commission, produce or co-produce output for its licence fee funded services which contains product placement. All programmes made by the BBC or an independent producer for broadcast on BBC licence fee funded services must be free of product placement. 

But now, brands are launching discount codes straight after appearing on the show, as well as bundles and offers for customers.

In August, Helen Skelton came under fire from BBC bosses after plugging brands during her time working on Morning Live.

The television presenter, 40, went against the strict guidelines of the broadcasting corporation by tagging the brands of clothing, jewellery and cake makers in her Instagram posts.

Guidelines state that ‘no on-air talent should promote products, goods, services or clothing they use’.

The BBC, which is funded by the license fee, does not allow advertising or product placements on its television or radio outputs, or on its websites.

Helen later removed the tags and did not receive payment for naming the brands on her social media channel.

Controversial? It was reported this month that Helen has allegedly come under fire from BBC bosses after plugging brands during her time working on TV show Morning Live

Controversial? Helen Skelton, 40, has allegedly come under fire from BBC bosses after plugging brands during her time working on Morning Live

Name drop: On Friday, Helen shared a picture of herself with some cakes made by 2018 Great British Bake Off winner Briony May Williams, who she tagged in her Instagram post

Name drop: On Friday, Helen shared a picture of herself with some cakes made by 2018 Great British Bake Off winner Briony May Williams, who she tagged in her Instagram post

A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Helen pays for the clothes she wears on the show and does not have relationships with the brands tagged.

‘She has now removed brand mentions from social posts linked to the programme.’

 The BBC show, which has courted controversy this season with claims of going ‘soft’ amid accusations of a fakery row, has long been a platform for dozens of successful brands, including Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce, Tangle Teaser and Hungry House.

Scoff Paws, who also secured A £50,000 investment last week for edible cards for dogs,  posted products to their Instagram referencing the show.

One card read: ‘Yes, you did see me on Dragons’ Den,’ while another read: ‘Scoff Paws on Dragons’ Den, say whaaat?’.

Tasty Mates, who also secured an investment last night, now have a ‘Dragons’ Den bundle’ posted on their website.

Full Power Cacao, a coco-energy drink, also offer a 22 per cent off Dragons’ Den discount. 

Dozens of other brands that appeared on the show include it in their advertising, from putting it on their social media to writing blog posts about it.

Flora Tea, who featured on the show more than a decade ago still use a Dragons' Den discount code on their website

Flora Tea, who featured on the show more than a decade ago still use a Dragons’ Den discount code on their website

Scoff Paws, who also secured A £50,000 investment last week for edible cards for dogs, posted products to their Instagram referencing the show

Scoff Paws, who also secured A £50,000 investment last week for edible cards for dogs, posted products to their Instagram referencing the show

Tasty Mates, who also secured an investment last night, now have a 'Dragons' Den bundle' posted on their website

Tasty Mates, who also secured an investment last night, now have a ‘Dragons’ Den bundle’ posted on their website

Full Power Cacao, a coco-energy drink, also offer a 22 per cent off Dragons' Den discount

Full Power Cacao, a coco-energy drink, also offer a 22 per cent off Dragons’ Den discount

Sooper Books, who appeared on the series last month, asked for just £1 each from the Dragons, for a 1 per cent stake in the company.

Peter Jones was the first investor to praise the couple for their imaginative pitch, congratulating them on the short story. He then asked them about the valuation of their business, at just £100.

Former illustrator Charlene and her husband investment banker Simon arrived in the Den eager to secure partnerships with some of the investors.

As the pair introduced Sooper Books to the Dragons, they delivered their pitch in rhyming couplets – leaving Deborah Meaden and her colleagues looking a little baffled. 

The couple explained they had been inspired to write the books, which are also available in audio form, by their daughter Goldie. Then, when lockdown hit and Sooper Books was gaining traction, they began offering their resources for free as children were home schooled.

They offered their unusual business proposition to the Dragons with a story written especially for the occasion – and before long, the tough businessmen and women were beaming.

Before the show, Sooper books didn't have an Instagram profile, but they have since popped up with one, and posted almost exclusively about Dragons' Den

Before the show, Sooper books didn’t have an Instagram profile, but they have since popped up with one, and posted almost exclusively about Dragons’ Den

Luxe Collective, Pavana Henna Bar, The Head Plan and Sooper Books all use their appearance on Dragons' Den in their marketing

Luxe Collective, Pavana Henna Bar, The Head Plan and Sooper Books all use their appearance on Dragons’ Den in their marketing

Simon explained that, ‘on paper’, the business is worth £3.2 million, however he added that the couple believed that getting a Dragon on board could help them grow the business further and help them reach ‘millions and millions’ of children.

He also noted that the couple had a lot of angel investors – people who invest their personal money – in their business, including Tom Bloomfield, founder of Monzo, and Princess Beatrice.

Many viewers noted they were essentially giving away 5 per cent of their company in exchange for marketting.

Before the show, Sooper books didn’t have an Instagram profile, but they have since popped up with one, and posted almost exclusively about Dragons’ Den.

Other brands, including Luxe Collective,  Pavana Henna Bar, The Head Plan, 

It comes after a series of controversies in the new series with Peter Jones accused of ‘leading an entrepreneur on’.

Meanwhile, producers came under fire during an episode from this series in which a glamorous entrepreneur received an investment from Diary of a CEO presenter Steven Bartlett for her ear device that she claimed ‘cured’ her ME.

Giselle Boxer appeared on the BBC show and asked for £50,000 for a 10 per cent stake in her business, Acu Seeds.

The mother of one said she set up the business, which sells £30 gold plated ear seeds, while on maternity leave, after she used a similar product to ‘cure herself from ME’.

She received the offer for the full amount from five of the dragons but settled on a smaller offer – £50,000 for 12.5 per cent of the business – from Steven Bartlett, 31, because she is ‘spiritual’ and ‘was told she was going to meet an important man called Steven’.

But now various doctors and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) sufferers have hit out at the BBC and the business for promoting an alternative medicine with no scientific evidence it can help ME or fatigue.

The ME association reported Acu Seeds to the Advertising Standards Agency and written to the BBC and chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee and chairman of the health and social care committee.

‘People who have ME/CFS are often on very low incomes and in the absence of any effective medical treatment are very vulnerable to these sort of unsubstantiated therapeutic claims.

Entrepreneur Giselle Boxer (pictured) was accused of 'selling snake oil' by claiming on Dragons' Den that her ear seeds helped 'cure' her ME

Entrepreneur Giselle Boxer (pictured) was accused of ‘selling snake oil’ by claiming on Dragons’ Den that her ear seeds helped ‘cure’ her ME

‘They are fed up with the way in which unproven and expensive treatments are regularly being promoted to them.

‘This programme has therefore caused a great deal of upset and anger in the ME/CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] patient community,’ the letter reads.

It adds that during Dragons’ Den none of the panel asked any questions about ‘validity Acu Seeds in ME/CFS and whether there was any scientific evidence of safety and efficacy for this product’.

Following the backlash, the BBC removed the Dragons’ Den episode from iPlayer, before re-uploading it a few days later containing a ‘clarification’.

It reads: ‘Acu Seeds are not intended as a cure for any medical condition and advice should always be sought from a qualified healthcare provider about any health concerns.’ 

It comes as the Dragons’ have become accused of going ‘soft’ on the show.

Over 21 series, the Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs have carefully honed their reputation as steely tycoons who can spot – and ruthlessly take down – a dubious business idea  in a heartbeat. 

Many of those who’ve dared to enter their lair, in search of investment, have famously crumbled upon the scrutiny of the millionaire Dragons’ tough questions on profit, loss and predictions. 

However, the latest series of the hugely popular BBC One show has, say viewers, seen a lighter side to the current cohort, which includes Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, and Steven Bartlett.

In an episode this season, hopeful Derry Green, who founded a glamping business during lockdown in Skelmersdale was left overwhelmed by the universal positive responses from the Dragons – with all five of them wowed by his profitable holiday business. 

Wigan entrepreneur Derry Green, who started a glamping company during lockdown, faced the intimidation of the Dragon's Den entrepreneurs in the second episode of the new series - but found them anything but scary

Wigan entrepreneur Derry Green, who started a glamping company during lockdown, faced the intimidation of the Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs in the second episode of the new series – but found them anything but scary

The Wigan-based businessman, who wants to scale up his Secret Garden glamping success, was told by Deborah Meaden that ‘it was okay to be emotional’ after he was reduced to happy tears in the lair. 

When Green left, having plumped for Deborah Meaden to help grow his business, he was wiping away tears, with Dragon Sara Davies also reaching for a tissue and saying through tears ‘I’m just so happy for him’. 

Touker Suleyman promptly offered his fellow tycoon a warm hug.  

Deborah Meaden, whose background is in the holiday industry, was all warm smiles and 100 per cent of the money after hearing the businessman's story

Deborah Meaden, whose background is in the holiday industry, was all warm smiles and 100 per cent of the money after hearing the businessman’s story

The hopeful had five to choose from...but opted for Deborah Meaden, with the pair sharing a warm hug

The hopeful had five to choose from…but opted for Deborah Meaden, with the pair sharing a warm hug

Nothing caustic here: Peter Jones (pictured) and Touker Suleyman were equally wowed by the glamping start-up

Suleyman offered praise to the Wigan businessman

Nothing caustic here: both Peter Jones (left) and Touker Suleyman were equally wowed by the glamping start-up, offering all of the money too

However, some viewers who were tuning in hoping for Dragons trademark short shrift weren’t too sure about the feel-good positivity.  

One wrote: ‘What the hell happened to this show thought there supposed to be mean dragons gone soft!’

Another agreed, saying: ‘The Dragons are turning into pussies. Soft deals and hugs ffs!’

Others suggested that the show had taken on a more ‘woke’ format. 



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