Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 10 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading, Misleading / Availability, Health & Beauty, Promotions with prizes, Misleading / Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

11th February 2021 – 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.

10 outof the 11 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Misleading. Misleading / Availability, Health & Beauty, Promotions with prizes and Misleading / Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages. The advertisements complained of related to Online and Television, Direct Marketing, Social Media (Instagram), Radio and Press. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold one intra industry / interested party complaint.

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 variety of platforms, and demonstrates how we ensure that ads in Ireland stick to the advertising rules. The main role of advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs), such as the ASAI, is to ensure that ads and other marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society and with proper respect for the principles of fair competition.”

“The ASAI is committed to protecting society in relation to advertising across all mediums. Self-regulatory ad standards provide an additional layer of consumer protection which complements legislative controls and offers an easily accessible means of resolving disputes.”

“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, through its adjudications, 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/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  Vodafone Ireland  Misleading    Three complaints were received regarding the various advertisements in the campaign.   Issue 1: The complainants all considered that the advertising was misleading as it was promoting a 1Gb broadband plan for €25 a month for the first 6 months, then €55 a month from thereafter, however the €55 a month price related to a 150mb product and not a 1Gb product.   Issue 2: The complainants considered that the omission of the cost to continue to receive the 1Gb broadband plan after the initial contract had ended was misleading.   Issue 3: One complainant considered that the advertising led them to believe that the speed being offered was 1Gb, whereas they had checked the advertisers’ address checker facility and were advised that they could avail of the three different speeds, 150Mb, 300Mb and 1 Gb. They considered the advertising had made it unclear that there were three price plans on offer.   In breach of section 4.1 of the Code.   Complaints Upheld in Part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-83/  
  MyCityDeal Limited  Misleading  The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading as it had stated that the voucher could be redeemed either by delivery or as takeout, when it was only possible to use the voucher for takeout collection. The complainant purchased a voucher and wanted to avail of the offer by delivery. On enquiring, the complainant was advised that the restaurant offered a delivery service through a third-party food delivery service only, and that the voucher could not be redeemed when using the delivery service.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/online-retailer-3/  
  Marks and Spencer    Misleading  The complainant said that she had ordered a sofa and was subsequently told that the earliest delivery date possible would be 16 days after her order, instead of seven as advertised. Upon querying this, the complainant was advised that it would take seven days for the item to be dispatched from the warehouse and another seven days for delivery because she was based in Ireland. She said she also advised that the delivery claim of seven days was an estimate only.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-19/  
  Kia Motors    Misleading    The complainant purchased the car model and considered that the colour was materially different from that which was advertised in the brochure and website. The complainant chose red because the advertised colour was an earthy looking metallic red, however, the actual exterior was a completely different colour – a fire engine red, non-metallic. He considered that the colour delivered was nothing like what was advertised. The complainant forwarded a photograph of the car he had purchased to show the colour. He considered the advertising false and misleading.   Complaint Upheld. In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-37/  
      Alpha CC      Misleading  The complainant considered that the text in the body, together with the subject line, implied that the cleaning product in question created a 72-hour barrier on surfaces that would protect against Covid-19. They believed this to be potentially misleading and queried the accuracy of this claim given the early nature and understanding of the virus.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-cleaning-products/
  Holmestead Saddlery Superstore  Misleading  The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading on two grounds:   Issue 1: The complainant considered that the advertising of a half-price sale was misleading as they did not believe that the saddles had been sold by, or were available to buy from, the advertiser at the “was” price. They said that the advertiser mostly sold second-hand saddles and that the “was” price related to the price of the saddles when purchased as brand new.   Issue 2: The complainant considered that the claim “The World’s best saddlery” was misleading to consumers as they did not consider that the claim could be substantiated.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.26 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/agriculture/    
  Grangeville Hearing  Health & Beauty  Two complaints were received on the following grounds:   Issue 1: The advertising was misleading as it claimed that lab tests have shown liquorice to be an effective treatment against Covid-19.   Issue 2: The advertising was misleading as it claimed that 5G was a factor in serious cases of Covid-19.   Issue 3: The advertising was misleading in claiming a cure for Covid-19 as there was no cure for the virus.   Issue 4: The advertising was misleading as it downplayed the seriousness of the virus.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of section 4.1 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-53/  
  Click and Go    Promotions with prizes  The complainant said that the competition was advertised in December 2018. There was to be a quarterly prize draw and an overall winner to be announced on December 12, 2019 (as per the terms and conditions). The complainant said that they had not seen any quarterly or over-all prize winner announcements.   Complaint Upheld in Part.   In breach of section 5.33 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/competition-6/  
  H.G Ritchie Ltd  Misleading / Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages  Issue 1: The complainant said the advertisement listed the days of the week and the different sweets for each day. They said the advertisement did not contain any statement stating that sweet foods should be eaten in moderation. The complainant considered the advertisement implied that sweets should be eaten every day.   Issue 2: The complainant considered that the comment at the end of the advertisement implied that some sweets contained milk, which, which they felt suggested that the products had some nutritional content, in the way milk did, which the sweets did not have.   Complaint Upheld in Part.   In breach of section 8.4 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-sweets/
  Imagine  Misleading / Availability  Seven complaints were received, one from eir and six from consumers.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, and 4.10 of the Code.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-84/  

The ASAI chose not to uphold one complaint made by an Interested Party in the following case:

Company/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  Pizza Max   Principles/Children/Food  A complaint was received on behalf of the Irish Heart Foundation regarding the advertisement.   Issue 1: The complainants said the advertisement appeared on the Instagram account of an account holder under the age of 15. They considered that the advertisement was targeting young people through both analytics and calorie count.   Issue 2: The complainants believed that the use of the words ‘Kids Specials’ was encouraging excessive consumption and encouraging young people to over-consume, depending on their age, to take advantage of a promotion.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/fast-food/    

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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