Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 9 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Recognisability and Alcohol

28 May 2020 – The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 11 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

9 of the 11 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Misleading Advertising, Recognisability and Alcohol. The advertisements complained of related to Social Media, Online, Email, Radio and Television. One of those upheld related to intra industry / interested party complaints. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold one consumer complaint. The ASAI has also issued a statement on one case and has advised advertisers to take note of their concerns in any future advertising campaign.

The Complaints Committee is a completely independent arm of the ASAI and is responsible for considering and adjudicating on complaints submitted by the public, by an organisation, by a Government Department or any other person or body. The Committee is made up of a range of experts from the advertising, media, education, consumer and marketing sectors. See further details here – http://www.asai.ie/about-us/complaints-committee

Commenting on the latest ASAI rulings, Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, stated:

“The latest complaints bulletin from the ASAI illustrates our ability to handle complaints across a large number of mediums. The main role of advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs) is to ensure that ads and other marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest and the ASAI is committed to protecting society in relation to advertising across all mediums. The continuing efficacy of the Code facilitates the prevalence of high standards in advertising.”

“The ASAI provide a free and confidential copy advice service to the advertising industry to help them create responsible ads. If an advertiser, agency or medium has any concerns about a marketing communications’ compliance with the ASAI’s Code, they can contact us and avail of the free and confidential copy advice service.”

Professor Bairbre Redmond, Independent Head of the Complaints Committee of the ASAI, says:

“Over the past few years, the Complaints Committee, comprised of independent and industry members, has dealt with a broad range of complaints. The Complaints Committee has also spent considerable time highlighting awareness in relation to advertising best practice within the advertising industry, ensuring all relevant parties are equipped with the knowledge and resources to correctly identify commercial marketing content across their platforms.”

Below is a list of complaints that have been found to be in breach of the ASAI Code:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Inglot/Chloe Ormond     Recognisability   The complainant raised two issues in relation to the advertising:   Issue 1: The complainant said that she initially considered the story to be a make-up tutorial. She said that some of the posts were then identified as being sponsored posts with #SP while some of the posts were not identified as such. She said that it was difficult to decipher what posts were advertising material and what were not.   Issue 2: The complainant said that where the posts were identified as being sponsored that it was difficult to read the #SP at times as the writing appeared to be the same colour as what the influencer was wearing.   In breach of sections 3.31 and 3.3.2 of the Code. Complaint Upheld in Part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/makeup/    
    Dyson Ireland Limited      Misleading / Substantiation / Price     The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading regarding the reduction being applied to the price of the product.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.26 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-17/    
  Mums and Babies Ireland   Principles   Two complaints were received in relation to the posts. Both complaints referred to the fact that advertisers were not allowed to promote Stage 1 Infant Formula.   In breach of section 8.31 of the Code.   Complaints Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-stage-1-infant-formula/  
  Nutricia Ireland Ltd -Cow & Gate   Infant & Follow-on Formula   The complainant raised two issues in relation to the advertisement.   Issue 1: The complainant considered that the advertising was in breach of the Code as it had not contained a statement that Follow-On Formula should not replace breastfeeding.   Issue 2: The complainant considered that the section entitled ‘Important Notice’ was misleading as it had stated that weaning was recommended at around six months which was contributing to the belief that breastfeeding was no longer beneficial after six months of age.   In breach of section 8.33 (a) of the Code.   Complaint Upheld in Part. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-infant-formula/  
  Musgrave Group   Alcohol   The complainant expressed concern that the advertising had not included the ‘drink responsibly’ message.   In breach of section 9.4 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/alcohol-24/  
  Old Mill Brewing Company      Alcoholic Drinks     The ASAI challenged whether the post complied with the Code as it had not included a responsibility message.   In breach of section 3.10 and 9.4 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/alcohol-25/  
  Three Ireland    Misleading / Substantiation / Price      The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading as they understood that the price of the phone for existing prepay customers was €269.99. When purchasing the phone, the complainant noted that they were charged €319.99 and on querying why, they were advised that the price of the phone for existing prepay customers was €319.99. As this was not stated in the advertising, the complainant considered the advertising to be in breach of the Code.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.22 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-77/  
  Triton Showers     Misleading/ Substantiation     The complainant considered the usage of the word ‘silent’ to be misleading. He said that while the advertised showers were quieter than the older showers, they were not silent as they still made noise.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-16/
  Virgin Media   Misleading / Substantiation / Price The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading as it had stated that the price for the bundle including Sky Sports or Sky Cinema was €89 after 12 months when the price of the bundle with Sky Sports was actually €129 or with Sky Cinema was €109.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, and 4.22 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-78/  

The ASAI chose not to uphold one complaint made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following cases:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Specsavers   Misleading / Exploitation of Goodwill / Imitation   Hidden Hearing considered the advertisements to be misleading due to the use of the term ‘hidden hearing aids’ which they believed could cause confusion amongst their customers, a potentially vulnerable audience. They said that a recent study identified that there was a 68 percent brand awareness of the name ‘Hidden Hearing’ amongst those interested in the provision of hearing aids, i.e the group that were targeted by relevant advertisements. The complainant believed the advertisements inferred that Specsavers offered ‘Hidden Hearing’ hearing aids.   They considered that by using the words ‘hidden hearing’ in this context the advertisers had implied some association with Hidden Hearing which did not exist, an action which they believed created an unfair commercial advantage for the advertisers.   Complaint not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/hearing-aids-3/  

The following complaint was investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee did not uphold the complaint.

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Mondalez Ireland   Children   The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) said that the post had appeared on the Instagram feed of a 14-year old teenager. They considered that the post was inappropriate as it suggested that families should not unite with Cadbury’s Heroes. They said it was irresponsible to use emotionally engaging communication linking celebrities, chocolates and young families.   They considered the advertisement to be in breach of the ASAI Code as it had featured a celebrity alongside young children, promoting a high fat sugar and salt (HFSS) product to children.   Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/confectionery/  

The following complaint made by a consumer was investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee considered that it was more appropriate to deal with the matter by way of a statement.

  Applus – National Car Testing Service (NCT)   Misleading / Substantiation   The complainant considered the claim in the advertisement that all vehicles registered in 2010 or before, required an annual NCT to be misleading. They said that vehicles that were registered before 1980 did not require an NCT and vehicles that were over 30 years old only required an NCT every two years and not every year as claimed.   Statement Issued by ASAI Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-34/    

The ASAI conducts ongoing monitoring of advertising across all media and since 2007, has examined over 27,000 advertisements, with an overall compliance rate of 98 per cent. The ASAI Monitoring Service monitors compliance with the Complaints Committee’s adjudications.

Media members are reminded that advertisements found to be in breach of the Code cannot be accepted for publication.

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