- 19 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Nutrition and Food Claims, Principles, Decency and Propriety
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 26 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.
19 of the 26 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Misleading Advertising, Nutrition and Food Claims, Principles, Decency & Propriety and Recognisability. The advertisements complained of related to Email, Social Media, Online, TV and Print advertising. One of those upheld related to intra industry / interested party complaints. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold six consumer complaints.
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 ASAI is committed to protecting consumers in particular 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|
|Paddy Power||Principles/Decency and Propriety||Six complaints were received regarding the advertising: Issue 1: The complainants considered the advertisement to be racist, offensive, anti-English in sentiment, stirring up anti-English feelings, and both highly insensitive and bigoted towards English people. Issue 2: The complainants considered the advertisement to be unhelpful in the context of Brexit and inappropriate in the current time of fear of a hard border being re-introduced. In breach of sections 3.3, 3.16 and 3.17 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/betting-bookmakers/|
|Marvin.ie||Principles/Decency and Propriety/Diet and Lifestyle||The complainant said they found the email to be highly offensive and unethical. They said that they had started to cook more at home in an effort to be healthier and save money, and that in this context they found the email insulting. They said they believed it to be unethical to try to discourage someone from trying to be healthier. In breach of section 8.4 and 8.6 of the code. Complaints Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-takeaway/|
|The Make Up Fairy||Recognisability||The complainant made two separate complaints that the webpages contained affiliate links and that this had not been disclosed. The complainant forwarded screenshots from the website. In breach of section 3.31 and 3.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/clothing-adult-2/|
|Shandon Travel/Sayit||Misleading||The complainant said the US SIM card was advertised as unlimited data however, data was restricted after 2GB due to excessive usage in line with a Fair Go policy. They said that the promotional material did not state that the usage was subject to Fair Go policy, or that certain features, such as personal hotspot, were unavailable. In breach of section 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/mobile-phone-networks/|
|Flahavan’s||Misleading/Nutrition and Food Claims||The complainant considered that the post implied a health claim relating to both mood and behaviour. As the claim was delivered by a registered Dietitian in a promotional video, they considered that it was in breach of EU regulation, Article 12 (c) of 1924/2006. In breach of section 8.14(c) of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-10/|
|Apache Pizza||Principles/Diet and Lifestyle||Two complaints were received in relation to the post, one from the Irish Heart Foundation and one from a consumer. Issue 1: The Irish Heart Foundation considered that the advertisement was in breach of the Code by encouraging unhealthy eating habits, discouraging good dietary practice and condoning poor nutritional habits in children. Issue 2: The Irish Heart Foundation objected to the post on the grounds that they believed it was mocking the food pyramid taught to children by suggesting that pizza was healthy because it could contain dairy and vegetables. The consumer complainant said that the Food Pyramid was used to teach children about nutrition and healthy eating habits. She considered the post breached the Code as children could construe that pizza had adequate nutritional composition. The complainant considered that pizza was nutritionally a poor-quality choice that did not align with the food pyramid. The complainant considered that the advertising targeted children’s awareness of the food pyramid with misleading information about an unhealthy choice of food. In breach of section 4.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-11/|
|Ciara O’Doherty Holiday Shop||Recognisability||The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as the advertisers have not disclosed multiple affiliate links on the website in question. In breach of sections 3.31, 3.32, 4.1 and 4.4 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/clothing-footwear-3/|
|Rosanna Davison Nutrition||Recognisability||The complainant considered that the post in question was misleading as the influencer did not disclose the fact that the post contained an affiliate link for which she was potentially receiving a commission from. In breach of sections 3.31 and 3.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/clothing-footwear-4/|
|The Fit Clinic / OH Fitness||Recognisability||The complainant considered that the OH Fitness advertises The Fit Clinic regularly and does not clearly identify the fact that the posts are marketing communications. She considered that when she does so, it appears at the end of a series of posts. In breach of sections 3.31 and 3.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-39/|
|No label Ireland / Conor Ryan||Recognisability||The complainant said that the post in question had not been identified as advertising material. In breach of sections 3.31 and 3.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/clothing-footwear-2/|
|Argos||Misleading||The complainant said that the product was advertised at €16.99 but that the price was actually €48.99. She was only made aware of this when she went to purchase the product. She said that there were no in-store notices to alert prospective consumers of the error. She considered the advertisement to be misleading. In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.22 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/miscellaneous-retail-2/|
|Virgin Media||Misleading||The complainant considered the advertising for a range of TV, broadband and phone packages on sale at a reduced price to be misleading as there was nothing to indicate the offers were available only to new customers. He considered that the initial terms and conditions should have mentioned the promotion being restricted. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4 and 5.16 of the Code. Complaint upheld in part. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-75/|
|Dublin Business School||Misleading||The complainant considered the heading of the article to be misleading and instead of offering advice on choosing CAO options it promoted the Dublin Business School. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.49 and 4.10 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/education-9/|
|Evergreen||Misleading||The complainant considered the claims made in relation to the benefits of the product to be misleading and unsubstantiated. She considered that it was irresponsible to mislead the public about health matters, including serious conditions, such as asthma. In breach of section 11.1 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/miscellaneous-online-retailer-2/|
|Wild Rover Tours||Misleading||The complainant considered the advertisement for the two overnight tours to be misleading. When he contacted the company, he was advised that the tours were no longer available. However, the tours referenced were listed on the website without any indication that they were subject to availability or had any cancelled. In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/travel-holidays-3/|
|The Tefl Academy||Misleading||The complainant considered that the advertised special price offers were misleading as the courses were continually offered at a discounted rate with the offer end date being extended each time. The complainant questioned whether the courses had ever been on sale at the advertised “was” price. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 5.32 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/education-10/|
|Brenda Ward Acupuncture||Misleading / Health and Beauty||The complainant considered the advertisement made specific medical claims for a non-medical procedure, in particular, regarding colds and flu and drawing the pathogen to the surface where the body’s immune system could expel it more easily. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.10 and 11.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-alternative-therapies-5/|
|Go Life Limited (Omega Brite)||Health and Beauty||The complainant considered that the claim the food supplement was “fab for your mood and cognitive function” was both in breach of EU legislation and the ASAI Code. In breach of sections 8.8 and 8.9 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-40/|
|Pfizer Healthcare Ireland||Health and Beauty||The complainant considered that the advertisement was attempting to normalise the use of proton pump inhibitors as it implied that it was acceptable and normal to take medication on a daily basis and regularly. While the complainant noted that the advertisement had stated that the medication should only be taken for two weeks, they considered that the advertising was misleading, irresponsible and was trivialising the use of medication. In breach of sections 3.3, 4.1, and 4.4 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-pharmaceutical/|
The ASAI upheld one complaint made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following cases:
|Company/Organisation||Complaint Category||Further Details|
|Apache Pizza||Principles / diet and Lifestyle||The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) objected to the post. They said that it was irresponsible to suggest that meal preparation should take the form of pizza slices every time. The IHF said that this type of marketing should be prevented, especially as young teenagers may view the post and be influenced by its contents. In breach of sections 8.4 of the code. Complaint Upheld in part. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-13/|
The following two complaints were investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee did not uphold the complaints.
|Company/Organisation||Complaint Category||Further Details|
|Tesco||Misleading||The complainant said that the advertisement was misleading because when Tesco delivered shopping, they did not put it in the fridge for their customers. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/supermarket-6/|
|Diageo Ireland||Principles / Alcoholic Drinks||Alcohol Action Ireland considered that the statement “Some things just belong together” was joining alcohol with sport and was reinforcing a social norm that alcohol was central to sport. They said that for children viewing the poster, the explicit message was a Guinness and Rugby hold symbiotic relationship and that alcohol was central to sport. They considered that the explicit message of the words “some things”, as only two ‘things’ were central, was that Guinness and Rugby were fundamentally and inextricably linked. They considered that this was supported by the use of the word “just” which reconfirmed this as fact or reason and the use of the word “belong” which determined the attachment or bound by allegiance, dependency or membership, while “together” closed the connection by defining a relationship. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/alcohol-23/|
The following four Intra Industry/ Interested Parties complaints were investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee did not uphold the complaints.
|Company/Organisation||Complaint Category||Further Details|
|Offbeat Donut Co||Misleading/Nutrition and Food Claims||Post 1 The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) considered that the post encouraged excess consumption and poor nutritional habits in children. They said that while they were unable to access the calorie content of the donuts on the advertisers’ website, they estimated that the calorie content per donut would be somewhere in the region of 350 – 400 calories. They also considered it to be inappropriate to suggest that children should eat this amount of calories while watching The Toy Show alongside the additional calories featured in the box of popcorn. They acknowledged that there was at least one adult present in the post and possibly two. Post 2 The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) considered that the second post could possibly have been interpreted as being addressed to children with the “Dear Santa” message provided on the top of the box. They considered that the post encouraged excess consumption and poor nutritional habits in children. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-beverages-15/|
|Ferrero UK Limited||Principles/ Diet and Lifestyle||The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) complained about social media advertising for World Nutella Day. They referenced posts on Instagram which they considered were clearly designed with children in mind. They considered that the advertising was clearly irresponsible and designed for and addressed to children, through the use of imagery, colours and pictures. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-12/|
|Glanbia Consumer Foods||Principles/ Diet and Lifestyle||Issue 1: The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) expressed concern regarding the content of the posts which they considered were targeted at young people. They said the product itself was one which contained a large amount of sugar and mainly consumed by young people and there should be more responsibility taken over advertising the product to young people during a child obesity problem in Ireland. Issue 2: Despite this social problem, they considered that young people had been targeted through the use of media, images, colours language (You & Your Mates) and the prize on offer which was either tickets to Leisureplex or Jumpzone. They stated that this was irresponsible and in breach of the Code by encouraging people to consume a product to take advantage of a promotion. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-beverages-16/|
|Magnet Networks||Misleading /Comparisons||Virgin Media objected to the claim “Ireland’s largest connectivity network”, which they considered to be untrue and misleading. The complainants stated that the advertisers sold a majority of their services using other network providers and as such the claim was misleading and potentially damaging to the advertisers’ competitors. Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-isp/|
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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For further information, please contact:
Breda Brown / Clodagh Foley
Tel: 01 5225200 / 085 865 8019 (CF)
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is financed by the advertising industry and committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications that is advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing. The objective is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.
Members of the ASAI are required to abide by the Code and not to publish an advertisement or conduct a promotion which contravenes Code rules. The Code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital (online banners, websites and social platforms), print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets/brochures, and direct marketing.
Further information on advertising self-regulation, the ASAI and the operation
of the system is available at www.asai.ie