Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 21 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading Advertising, Health and Beauty, Principles, Decency & Propriety
  • 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.

21 of the 25 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Misleading Advertising, Health and Beauty, Principles, Decency & Propriety and Substantiation. The advertisements complained of related to Social Media, Online, Radio and Outdoor advertising. Two of those upheld related to intra industry / interested party complaints. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold four 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 main role of advertising self-regulatory organizations (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 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
  The Institute of Education     Misleading / Substantiation   Twenty-two complaints were received regarding the advertising. The issues raised by the complaints were as follows:   Issue 1: The complainants considered the claim “Better Teachers” had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading. One complainant stated that in order to teach in a school in Ireland a person must register with the Teaching Council of Ireland and all registered teachers must hold a degree and a teaching qualification such as a higher diploma in education or a professional master’s in education. They said some degree programmes offered this qualification concurrently to the degree. They stated that if teachers at The Institute of Education had additional qualifications this had not been stated in the advertisement.   Issue 2: One complainant considered that the reference to “Better Results” referred to the Leaving Certificate results which they did not consider to be substantiated. They said that the standard of teaching provided by the advertiser, or any heightened results, could be due to a number of factors, including the socio-economic status of students attending a fee-paying institute.   Issue 3: Some complainants considered that the claim was disparaging and degrading other teachers and education staff.   Issue 4: Eleven of the complainants considered the claims to be offensive.   Complaint Upheld in Part.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/education-11/  
  Redcastle Oceanfront Hotel   Misleading / Presentation   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as it stated ‘one 25-minute spa treatment’ and considered that it was one treatment per person as the ‘bestie’ goes free. He was advised by the advertisers’ that the spa treatment was for one person only and that the ‘one €10 spa credit’ could have been used towards the other treatment which was not free.   In breach of section 4.1 of the code.   Complaint Upheld. Link:  https://www.asai.ie/complaint/travel-holidays-4/  
  Showtimes.ie   Misleading / Substantiation   The complainant said that he had previously worked with the directors of Showtimes.ie through his own company, Showtours, and he was aware that the actual number of shows completed by Showtimes.ie was four, not sixty-nine. He felt that the advertisers were attempting to mislead customers by implying an existing affiliation with Showtours through the exaggerated number of completed events quoted.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.   Complaints Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/entertainment-4/  
  Homestore + More   Misleading / Substantiation   The complainant visited a store and purchased four cushion covers that were reduced to €1.99 each and four fillers for the cushions at €2.99. The complainant then wished to exchange her purchases for a different style of cushion, and on returning to the store they were advised that the new cushion came with the filling included. On enquiring, they were advised that when the cushion prices were reduced, the filling was removed. The complainant noted that the original price of the complete cushion was €4.99, however, after the reduction the cover was charged at €1.99 and the filling at €2.99, this came to €4.98, which made a saving of only 1c. The complainant considered that the website advertising was misleading as it did not state that the reduction applied to the cushion cover only but rather had implied that the full cushion was being reduced and that the advertised saving was incorrect as they had only made a saving of 1c rather than the saving of €3 advertised.   In breach of section 4.1 and 4.4 of the code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-13/
  Vikingdirect.ie   Misleading / Substantiation   The complainant said that she ordered the three items all of which had been identified as being “fragrance free”. She said that having contact dermatitis and being allergic to all fragrances, she discovered when she received the items that they all contained perfume in the ingredients.   In breach of section 4.1 and 4.4 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/household-products/  
    MyCity Deal Ltd (Groupon UK)     Misleading / Price   The complainant said she considered the offer to be misleading. She said the initial price indicated in the advertisement was €25.99 and this had been accompanied by an image of a parasol. When she clicked through, however, the only thing on offer for €25.99 was a parasol base. This had not formed part of the original offer.     In breach of section 4.22 of the code.   Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/garden-furniture/
        Jeff.ie         Misleading / Substantiation / Health and Beauty     Two complaints were received in relation to the post. Issue 1 – Advertisers’ website: The complainant considered that the testimonials used in the advertising were making unsubstantiated and misleading claims to cure illness such as Tinnitus and Cancer.  Issue 2 – Third- Party website – The Hidden Mind Section: The complainant considered that the section titled “The Hidden Mind”, which outlined the Hidden Mind method, was misleading. In breach of sections 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-41/
  Fitbit   Misleading / Substantiation    The complainant said that while the Fitbit Charge 3 had been advertised as having an SPO2 sensor, it was not enabled on the device. He said there was no way of viewing the information gathered by the sensor in the device itself or on any of its associated apps. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/jewellery-fitbit-device/
  Ladbrokes   Principles / Gambling    The complainant said that the advertisement contained no responsible gaming message or direction to any information about gambling responsibly. In breach of sections 3.3 and 10.10 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-17/
  National Pen   Misleading / Price   The complainant said that there was no indication in the advertisement that the pens were charged at €1.79 each per pen.  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/miscellaneous-3/
  Green Flamingo Limited    Misleading / Sales Promotions     The complainant considered the email headline to be misleading. When he opened the email to get the voucher, the message stated that a contest had opened where one could win (brand name) package and a gift card.  In breach of section 4.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-18/
  Fontem Ventures BV    E-cigarettes  Eight complaints were received in relation to the complaint. Issue 1: Two complainants considered that the advertising encouraged non-vapers and non-nicotine users to start using the product. Issue 2: Three complainants considered that the advertising was targeting children and teenagers. The complainants referred to the stylised visuals with one complainant considered that the advertising presented vaping as fashionable and cool. Issue 3: Three complainants considered that the product category should not be permitted to advertise as they said it had not been proven to do no damage. In breach of section 17.8 of the code. Complaint Upheld in part. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/e-cigarettes-3/
  Allergy Test Ireland    Misleading / Health and Beauty   The complainant objected to the advertising on the following two grounds: Issue 1: The complainant considered that the company’s name “Allergy Test Ireland” misrepresented what the company was advertising – food intolerance testing. They stated that there was a world of difference between an IgE food allergy which could cause serious health issues and what was termed “food intolerance”. The complainant considered that the company were falsely claiming to test for food allergies which could put people’s lives at risk. In breach of sections 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code. Complaint upheld in part. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-42/
  Aquil Ltd.    Misleading / Substantiation / Health and Beauty   Two complaints were received regarding the advertisement. Issue 1: The complainants considered the claims made in the advertising to be misleading. Issue 2: One complainant considered that the advertising was preying on those who may be ill or of a naïve persuasion. In breach of sections 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-43/  
  MCD Promotions   Misleading / Price   The complainant considered the advertising for the concert tickets to be misleading. He said the tickets were advertised at a price with the booking fee included, however tickets were not possible to buy at that price as there was an additional fee charged by the ticket booking agent. In breach of section 4.1 4.4 and 4.23 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-19/
  Dan Seaman Motors    Misleading / Substantiation   The complainant considered that the claim to have a 600km range was misleading as the car was a hybrid vehicle, whose electric battery range was approximately 45km. The complainant also noted that the advertisement had referred to the vehicle as a PHEV (plug in hybrid electric vehicle) while referring to the benefits of an electric vehicle, without clarifying to the listener what a PHEV is.  In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/motoring-32/
  Nestle Nutrition (SMA Advanced)   Misleading / Food (Infant Follow-On Formula)   The complainant considered that the term Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) was misleading as it suggested that some part of the product was derived from human milk. The complainant also considered that infant formula manufacturers should not be allowed to suggest that their product contained human milk or was similar to human milk.  In breach of section 8.33 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-follow-on-milk/
  MCD / Ticketmaster   Misleading / Availability   The complainant considered the pricing in the advertisement to be misleading. He tried to book the ticket at the lowest price point indicated in the advertisement but could only get the ticket at the price higher than that advertised.  In breach of section 4.28(b) of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/leisure-20/
  The Skin Herbalist   Misleading / Health and Beauty   Two complaints were received about the advertising.   Issue 1: A complainant referred to the “Conditions Helped” page on the advertisers’ website. The complainant said that claims were made about the treatment for various ailments and they challenged whether there was any evidence to substantiate the claims.   Issue 2: A complainant referred to the claim for the Supertronic device, that “When a disease is latent, however, it can reliably be identified by a device that works on the principle of EAV (Electroacupuncture according to Voll). Energy’s consultants use Supertronic to measure energy in the body.” The complainant contended that the device was a meter of electrical resistance and therefore considered that the claim was misleading. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/health-beauty-44/
        Brown Thomas         Misleading / Sales Promotion    The complainant said that she had purchased the cosmetic product in question and believed that she would therefore receive a free gift as stated in the advertisement. When she did not receive the gift, she queried the matter with Customer Service who advised her that, had she spent €200 or more, she would have received a beauty box worth €80. The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as it was not clear that the ‘free gift’ in question referred to the Beauty Box offer. In breach of sections 4.1 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/cosmetics-3/
  Irish Radioplayer   Misleading   The complainant considered that both the tagline on the home page “All of Irish radio in one place”, and the statement “Every radio station in the Republic of Ireland is available on the app” within the answer in the FAQ’s section of the website were misleading as not all of Irish radio was available on the app. The complainant said that the website stated that there were 43 stations listed on the app at the time of his complaint but that this figure did not include community radio stations, therefore, it did not include all Irish radio. In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code. Complaint Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/18028/

The ASAI did not uphold two complaints made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following cases:

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Ferrero   Principles / Children   Issue1: The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) considered that the advertisement was encouraging children to consume the product during breakfast in addition to the tagline “as part of a balanced breakfast”. They considered this was in breach of the ASAI Code as brands should not encourage unhealthy eating habits in children and considered the advertisement was doing this by encouraging children to eat chocolate first thing in the morning.   Issue 2: A consumer complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading and targeting children with a statement ‘Spread Happiness’ by indirectly attempting to link having Nutella spread on toast for breakfast equalling happiness.     Issue 3:   The consumer complainant also considered the statement ‘Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast’ to be misleading and inappropriate as they said that a high fat and high sugar food should not form part of children’s breakfast.   Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-beverages-17/  
  Three Ireland (Hutchinson) Limited   Misleading   eir objected to the advertisement which they considered to be misleading as it did not specify that the broadband being promoted related to ‘mobile’ broadband as opposed to ‘fixed line’ broadband.   Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/telecommunications-76/  

The following two complaints were investigated and following investigation, the ASAI Complaints Committee did not uphold the complaints.

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  National Dairy Council   Misleading / Substantiation / Nutrition and Health Claims     The complainant considered that the advertisement was irresponsible by using the image of a person wearing a lab coat together with the wording that the products contained essential vitamins and minerals, as they believed that this was a clear indication that scientific evidence supported the assertion that milk was a healthy foodstuff. They considered that the advertisers, in using the image, had a responsibility to present fuller information, or to avoid being deliberately vague about the nutritional benefits of diary products.   Complaint Not Upheld. Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/food-non-alcoholic-beverages-3/
    Independent Broadcasters of Ireland      Principles / Decency and Propriety      Issue 1: A significant number of complainants described the advertisement as offensive as well as indecent and inappropriate.   Issue 2: A number of complainants considered that the content was discriminatory against older people and was ageist in nature. A significant number also considered that the content was demeaning. Some were of the view that the content depicted the male body negatively and being ugly and would not have been scripted using a female as the main character subject.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link: https://www.asai.ie/complaint/publishing-2/  

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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