Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 25 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Health & Beauty, Comparisons and Recognisability

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 25 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

25 of the 27 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Health & Beauty, Comparisons, Decency & Propriety and Recognisability. The advertisements complained of related to Email, Social Media, Outdoor, Online and Radio and Print advertising. Two of those upheld related to intra industry / interested party complaints. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold two consumer complaints.

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:

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

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  City Paving   Principles/Misleading   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as it had displayed two addresses that the company in question were not located at.   In breach of sections 3.10, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-12/
  N26 Banking   Decency and Propriety   Two complaints were received in relation to the advertisement. They considered the reference to ‘bullshit’ to be offensive and unnecessary.   In breach of section 3.3 and 3.20 of the code.   Complaints Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/financial-institutions/
  Beauty Baby / Ellie Kelly   Recognisability   The complainant felt the post was misleading as #ad had not been included in either the title or the thumbnail of the video. They felt it was therefore unclear that it was a sponsored tutorial.   In breach of section 3.31 and 3.32 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/cosmetics/  
  Flormar Makeup / Katie Moran   Recognisability   The complainant had viewed a post by the blogger Katekontour which featured an image of a blogger modelling a makeup look she had created using Flormar products. A list of products used were provided along with the use of ‘#sp’ to denote it was a marketing communication. Two days later the complainant noted that the blogger had posted a video tutorial of her creating the makeup look for Flormar whereby the blogger had referred to the previous post. As the follow-up post had not included any hashtag to indicate it was a marketing communication, the complainant considered it was in breach of the code. In breach of section 3.31 and 3.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-36/
    Mibodi Apparel / Gary Pineda     Recognisability   The complainant considered the post to be misleading in content as the influencer had not declared that it was a marketing communication.   In breach of section 3.31 and 3.32 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-fitness-3/
  REN Skincare Ireland / Laura’s Views   Recognisability / Misleading     The complainant considered it misleading that the blogger did not mention her status as a Brand Ambassador until the end of the video.   In breach of sections 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/cosmetics-2/
  AppliancesDelivered.ie   Misleading   The complainant said he clicked on the image of a gas hob provided on the website and tried to find out the cost of having it fitted in line with the ‘half price installation offer’. He said that he couldn’t find a price anywhere on the website for the fitting and when he rang the company, he was informed that they did not fit gas hobs.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4,4 and 4.5 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-domestic-appliances/
  Carphone Warehouse   Misleading   The complainant felt the advertisement was unclear that the offer did not apply to existing Three customers and was therefore misleading.   In breach of section 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-74/
  Tesco Ireland   Misleading   The complainant said that he saw the advertisement at the Ballinamore store. He felt that the advertisement was misleading as, upon enquiring about the service, he was advised that home delivery was not available from that particular store.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/retail-supermarket-4/
  Hooke & MacDonald   Misleading   The complainant noted the journey time claim of 25 minutes using Irish Rail in the advertising and stated that the Irish Rail website had stated that the shortest journey time in optimal conditions was 40 minutes. The complainant claimed that most journeys on this route during commuter times were 50 minutes, double that claimed in the advertising.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/property-9/
  Taxback.com     Misleading   The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading. He said that in his opinion there were many strings attached to the tax back process. Rather than getting a free estimate with no strings attached when he followed the procedures outlined in the advertising, he was sent an email with instructions to download and save application forms to be processed. He was also requested to provide photographic ID and his electronic signature.   In breach of sections 4.1,4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/business-services-3/  
  Harvey Norman   Misleading   The first complaint said that a video doorbell which was available to buy for €179.99 in one retail outlet was priced at €199 in Harvey Norman. The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading.   The second complainant said that he wished to purchase a WiFi powerline extender which was priced at €59.99 in Harvey Norman. While in the Harvey Norman store, he checked an online retailer’s website and the same item was priced at €49.99. The complainant then asked if the remaining items on the shelf would be priced accordingly and was advised that this would not be the case.   The complainant considered the adverting to be misleading as in his opinion there was every need to shop around as the advertisers only matched their competitors’ prices when a difference in cost was brought to their attention.   In breach of sections 4.1,4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/miscellaneous-retail/
  Guiry Auctioneers   Misleading   The complainant considered the advertisements to misrepresent the advertised properties as the pictures and a description of the apartment were taken from an advertisement of another property letting agent advertising a two-bedroom suite in a 5-star Dublin hotel.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/property-10/
  Toyota   Misleading   Eleven complaints were received regarding the advertising.   Issue 1: The complainants considered that the claim “self-charging” was misleading as the car’s battery was being charged by external power.   Issue 2: One complainant considered that the use of the term “self-charging” was misleading as it indicated to a consumer that they were buying a car that was constantly producing electricity to propel it through perpetual motion which they considered was impossible as energy could not be created or destroyed it was transferred from one form to another.   Issue 3: One complaint claimed that the cars were 100% fossil fuel powered but that they had an extra battery which propelled the cars at low speed but that the internal combustion engine engaged thereafter. Issue 4: Another complainant believed that the advertisers were claiming that their hybrid cars were more efficient than a plug-in hybrid or an electric only car. One complainant considered that hybrid cars had no ability to charge from electricity as they were not plug-in hybrid vehicles.   Issue 5: One complainant considered that the advertising was claiming that the hybrid vehicles were superior to those that needed to be plugged in.   Issue 6: They considered that the claim in the television advertising to save money had not been substantiated and that overall the advertising was making scientifically false and misleading claims. Complaints Upheld in Part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-28/  
  Lidl   Misleading / Prices   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as, after purchase, they were informed that the chairs were not included in the offer as stated in the advertisement.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.22 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/retail-supermarket-5/
  Ford Ireland   Misleading / Prices   The complainant considered the advertised prices to be misleading as the final price he was quoted was €199, which was higher than that initially promoted.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.22 of the code.   Complaint Upheld   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-31/
  Mick’s Garage   Misleading / Availability   The complainant received an email from the advertisers regarding a promotion with a ‘10% everything’ discount code. When the voucher code came up as invalid during the purchase, the complainant was advised that the item he wished to purchase was not included in the promotion as the price for it had already been reduced. The complainant considered this to be misleading as the email stated ‘everything’.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.28(a) of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-car-parts-and-accessories/
  Anthony Conaghan Cars   Misleading / Comparisons The complainant said that the advertisers were self-proclaimed as ‘Ireland’s favourite car retailer’ and had not won any awards. They felt that by using this claim the advertisers were being disingenuous to potential customers in order to generate sales.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.33 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-30/
  National Dairy Council   Misleading / Comparisons   The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading on the basis that it had stated nut milk contains 12 ingredients. The complainant considered that the advertainment was generalising all nut milks and that while some nut milks contained 12 ingredients, some brands contained only 2 or 3 ingredients.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.32 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-milk-3/
  MSL Motor Group   Misleading / Promotions   The complainant purchased a car from the advertisers which later required certain items to be replaced while still within the guarantee term. However, the complainant was advised by the advertisers that the items in question were considered ‘wear and tear items’ and would not be covered by the guarantee. The complainant considered that the website did not make this exclusion clear and was therefore misleading.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, and 5.15(i) of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motor-vehicles/
  Life Pharmacy   Misleading / Nutrition and Health Claims / Food   The complainant queried whether there was scientific evidence available to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement. The complainant considered that if such evidence was not available that the advertisement was misleading.   In breach of sections 4.1, 8.8, 8.9, 8.11 and 8.25 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-probiotics/
  AFK Fitness   Misleading / Health and Beauty   Five complaints were received in relation to the various pieces of advertising. The complainants raised the following complaint issues:   Issue 1: The complainants considered that the claims in the various advertisements to prevent, treat or cure illnesses such as cancer or diabetes was misleading and were not capable of substantiation.   Issue 2: One complainant considered that the content on the webpage titled “Cancer Prevention. Nutrition Training After Cancer Recovery” insinuated that chemotherapy was bad and was the reason for the poor cancer survival rates and that the Ketogenic diet was better than chemotherapy.   Issue 3: Complainants considered that the claims to cure cancer were dangerous and were preying on the vulnerable and could encourage patients to stop taking medication.   Issue 4: One complainant considered that the advertisers were not a licenced practitioner and therefore, were not licenced to provide medical services. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1, 11.8(a) and (b) and 11.10 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-38/
  Boylesports     Promotional Marketing Practices The complainant viewed the offer and checked the terms and conditions, noting that no expiry date had been given in the terms and conditions. The complainant signed up and placed a bet of €10. After checking his account the next day, he noted that he had only received a free bet of €5 not the advertised €20. He made enquiries with the advertisers and was told the promotion had ended as it was in conjunction with the World Cup.   In breach of sections 5.4, 5.5. 5.15(c) and 5.16 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-betting-7/

The ASAI upheld two complaints made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following cases:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Together.ie   Principles / Misleading   Avalon Relationship Consultants, who offer online pre-marriage courses, objected to the statement that online courses did not satisfy Irish diocesan guidelines. They said that this statement was misleading to their customers and damaging to their brand. They said it was a priest who decided on the form of marriage preparation required and that their online pre-marriage course had been accepted by priests in Ireland.   In breach of sections 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/miscellaneous-pre-marriage-courses/  
  Fitzwilliam Food Test   Misleading / Health and Beauty   Two consultant Immunologists and a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health objected to the print advertisement. The Professor made his complaint on behalf of the Irish Food Allergy Network and the Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology. One of the complainants commented that food intolerance testing had been extensively reviewed by numerous organisations, including the Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology, the Irish Food Allergy Network, the European Association of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the UK House of Lords and the UK Advertising Standards Authority and was not recommended. Two consumer complaints were also received regarding the online advertainment. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the code.   Complaint Upheld in part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-37/

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
  Toyota   Misleading     The complainant considered the advertising was for the Prius model. They considered that the claim that the car was able to drive in electric mode up to 55% of the time while driving was misleading as it was impossible to achieve this unless the driver was sitting in a traffic jam – not moving. The complainant also considered that the statement could mislead consumers into thinking that they could use up to 55% less petrol than a standard internal combustion engine. The complainant said that the reality was that a hybrid vehicle would only give approx. 10% better fuel economy over a comparable standard internal combustion engine vehicle.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-29/
  SSE Airtricity   Misleading / Environmental Claims     Three complaints were received regarding the television advertisement:   Complaint one: Two complainants considered the advertisement to be misleading as it implied the power supplied by the company was all sourced from wind power and the company were a ‘100% green energy company’.   Complaint two: Two complainants considered the advertising was false and designed to give the impression that consumers were buying 100% green electricity and opposed to fossil fuel generated electricity.   Complaint three: One complainant stated that the advertisers operated an oil-fired generating station at Tarbert, Co. Kerry and that this was in conflict with the image they presented as a clean low emissions source of electricity.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-11/

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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