Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 14 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Health & Beauty, Nutrition and Children 

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 16 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

13 of the 16 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Health & Beauty, Nutrition and Children. The advertisements complained of related to Email, Social Media, Online, Radio, Television and Print advertising. One of those upheld related to intra industry / interested party complaints. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold two consumer complaints and one intra industry / interested party complaint.

The Complaints Committee is a completely independent arm of the ASAI and is responsible for considering and dealing with complaints submitted by the public, by a member of the ASAI, by a Government Department or any other person or body of persons. 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 ASAI is committed to protecting consumers in relation to advertising, – across all mediums – and our approach is to work with all advertisers to ultimately ensure that all marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest.

“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
  Motivation Weight Management   Decency and Propriety   16 complaints were received with five issues raised. Issue one stated the advertisement was a form of bullying. Issue two suggested the depiction on the woman was excessively unkind. Issue three noted that it raised the pressures which social media gives in relation to body image and considered the image had the potential to effect people’s mental health. Issue four stated it suggests the person in the advertisement was distressed because she needed to lose weight which is deemed irresponsible and the fifth issue questioned the weight of the woman in the advertisement who appeared to be of normal weight.   In breach of sections 3.3, 3.23 and 12.8 of the code.   Complaint Upheld in part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/slimming-4/
  Universal Pictures Ireland     Decency and Propriety   Two complaints were received in relation to two advertisements for ‘Halloween’ that were shown on Virgin Media channels before 21:00 on the grounds that they were not suitable for family viewing time.   In breach of section 7.2 and 7.4 of the code.   Complaints Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/entertainment-3/
  The Sunday Business Post   Decency and Propriety   The complainant considered the advertising to be ageist and discriminatory under current legislation on the grounds of age.   In breach of section 3.17 of the code.   Complaint Upheld in part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/publishing-newspaper/
  Smyths Homevalue Wexford   Decency and Propriety   The complainant considered the advertisement racist and that the advertisers were selling goods on the basis of racism. In breach of section 3.17, 3.19 (b) and (c) of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/diy-tools/
    OH Fitness     Recognisability   The complainants noted that the influencer OH Fitness was a sponsored athlete for the advertisers MyProtein brand. As the influencer had not declared that she was a sponsored athlete in the posts where she was wearing the clothing, they considered that the posts were in breach of the code. In breach of section 3.31 and 3.32 of the code.   Complaints Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-fitness-2/
  As I Am Clinic   Misleading / Health     The complainant considered the advertisement created an unrealistic expectation by using “Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression”, that it was misleading in relation to the causes of Autism and the claims on detox, and that it created a fear of vaccinations.   In breach of sections 3.23, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1, 11.10 and 11.9 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-35/
  RosaleenAllen.ie   Misleading / Health   The complainant considered the advertising created unrealistic expectations of a cure for autism by referring to the therapy as CEASE. The complainant also considered the claims related to the causes of autism to be bogus claims which created fear and guilt in relation to vaccinations. The complainant then queried the validity of the detox claims referenced in the advertising.   In breach of sections 4.9 and 11.1 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/alternative-therapies-2/
  Argos   Misleading   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as it implied the game was available to purchase immediately at the price stated. However, the product at that price was only available as a pre-order as the game had not yet been released.   In breach of section 4.1 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/computers-hardware-entertainment/
  Bluecrest Health Screening   Misleading / Health   Ten complaints were received about the direct mailings from the advertisers. The first issue considered the marketing communication to be misleading and that it would cause confusion and anxiety amongst consumers. The second issue considered the marketing communication resembled communications from the HSE and health centres communicating about health appointments and by inviting consumers to confirm their time, implied that an appointment had already been made. The third issue considered that multiple mentions of the ‘Free’ GP helpline was misleading as it was only on the fourth page that the cost of the screening, upon which the access to the free service was dependent, was mentioned.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4 and 5.22(a) of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-4/
  Musgrave Group   Misleading   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading. The leaflet that the complainant received stated that the offer was available only in selected stores. After calling around to a number of stores the complainant was informed that the item was sold out the previous week, one week earlier than it was stated on the leaflet.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/supermarket-5/
  Flanagans Furniture LTD     Misleading   The complainant purchased the product and said that, although it appeared complete on the website, it was delivered flat-packed and therefore required assembly. They felt that this was misleading as this information was not provided on the product page.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-furniture-2/

The ASAI upheld a complaint made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following case:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Ryanair   Misleading   A complaint was received from Aer Lingus regarding the advertisement stating that Ryanair was No. 1 for punctuality. They said the advertisement was inaccurate, misleading and should not be used again   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/airline-services-3/
  Four Star Pizza   Misleading / Food   Two complaints were made on two posts posted by Four Star Pizza on their Facebook page. The Irish Heart Foundation objected to post one stating that the content was irresponsible by making fun of a balanced diet. They considered the content of post one indicated that a doctor’s recommendation was being mocked and by doing so were trying to engage with young people. The ASAI Executive asked the advertisers to comment on post two as it had featured a person appearing to consume a very large pizza.   In breach of sections 8.4 and 8.6 of the code.   Complaint Upheld in part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-8/

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

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Kellogg’s   Health / Children   Complaint one came from The Irish Heart Foundation who expressed concerns regarding the content of the advertising. They felt this advertisement was in breach of section 8.16(b) of the code which stated marketing communications should not mislead children as to the potential benefits from consumption of a product either physically, socially or psychologically. In this regard they considered the advertisement had clearly portrayed children stating they were in heaven and very happy when eating the chocolate cereal. The second complaint, also coming from The Irish Heart foundation, stated the advertisement was in breach of section 8.18 of the code. which states communications should not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children. In this regard they considered it to be inappropriate to feature a young girl exclaiming that she would love to have chocolate in everything.   Complaint Not Upheld   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-9/  

The following complaints were investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee did not uphold the complaints. Both complaints were made by a consumer party:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Procter & Gamble Ireland   Decency and Propriety     Nine complaints were received in relation to the advertisement. The complainants felt that the advertisement was offensive and that the use of the word ‘bedgasm’ was overtly sexual in nature. They also stated it was inappropriate to show the advertisement before 21:00 as it introduced children to adult concepts and prompted them to enquire as to the meaning of the word ‘bedgasm’, which would leave parents in an uncomfortable position.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-10/
  An Post (Irish Book Awards)   Decency and Propriety     The complainant referred to the problem of drugs in Ireland and said that the advertisement in his view implied an acceptance of mind-altering substances. The complainant considered the advertisement to be grossly inappropriate and in poor taste.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-16/

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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