Almost a third of UK SME owners don’t know whether or not UK should stay in the Single Market according to Bibby Financial Services report

  • 43% of UK SME’s say uncertain economic environment is holding back investment
  • Over a quarter of UK SME’s are struggling to hire skilled workers
  • Ambiguity could have a knock-on effect on Irish SME’s exporting to the UK

Almost a third of UK SME owners (30%) don’t know whether or not UK should stay in the Single Market, despite the UK Government’s pledge to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union, according to the latest SME Confidence Tracker from independent financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS).

The quarterly report also highlights that despite rising confidence overall, more than two-fifths of UK SME’s (43%) say they are holding back on investing in their businesses, due to the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit. This is in stark contrast to Irish SME owners who reported in the Bibby Global Business Monitor, published in October 2017, that 97% were expecting to invest in their businesses this year.

A leading provider of financial support and funding solutions to SME’s, Bibby Financial Services helps businesses to thrive and grow in domestic and international markets by providing bespoke financial assistance and a wide range of specialist and working capital funding options.

The number of UK SME’s expecting sales to increase between April and June jumped by 13 per cent, with half (50%) expecting to see an increase, when compared with expectations for the first three months of the year. The overall confidence index rose by six basis points from 58 in Q4 2017 to 64 in Q1 2018. It is the highest reading since Q2 2015 when The European Union Referendum Bill was first unveiled.

With near record-low levels of unemployment, over a quarter (27%) of UK SME’s are struggling to hire skilled workers, and 23% say they have had to increase wages to retain existing skills. With many firms reliant on overseas workers, there are concerns that the issue will be compounded when the UK leaves the EU next year.

Over the next three months, more than two fifths (41%) of UK SME’s are planning to invest in training and developing existing staff, while a quarter (24%) are planning to bring in new talent. Just under a third (30%) are planning to upgrade their digital technology.

Mark O’Rourke, Managing Director of Bibby Financial Services Ireland, says:

It is clear that even limited clarity over Brexit – and some compromise on behalf of both the UK and the EU following recent negotiations – has had somewhat of a calming effect on UK SME’s. This has resulted in an increase in confidence, which is long overdue following two years of tumbling confidence and subdued investment. 

However, our research shows there’s still ongoing confusion amongst UK SME owners as to what’s involved in staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union. Real stability won’t be achieved until the UK government and the European Union finalise their plans.  

No matter how big or small an Irish SME is, Brexit is going to affect their business. The Irish SME’s which will be successful in the long-term are those who are planning now for Brexit and thinking strategically about how they can protect profit margins, amid this insecurity.”

For more information about Bibby Financial Services Ireland, please visit:

Find us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter @BibbyFinanceIE

2,101 complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland in 2017 and 75 advertisements found to be in breach of ASAI Code

2017 Annual Report shows significant majority (61%) of complaints were made

on the basis that an advertisement was perceived to be ‘misleading’

A total of 2,101 written complaints relating to 1,066 advertisements were received by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) last year, according to the organisation’s 2017 Annual Report which was released today. This represents a 58% increase in the number of complaints received in 2016. The number of complaints resolved at 1,802 represents a 31% increase on the previous year.

The ‘Health and Beauty’ sector attracted the most number of complaints, while ‘Digital Media’ gave rise to the highest number of complaints by media. The ASAI, which is the independent self-regulatory body committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications, found that 75 advertisements were in breach of the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications.

The ASAI Annual Report outlines that 61% of the complaints made in 2017 were on the basis that an advertisement was misleading, while 12% were made on the basis that an advertisement was offensive. There were also a wide range of other issues covered by the ASAI Code that were raised by members of the public, including concerns about alcohol advertising, children, employment and business opportunities, financial services, food and non-alcoholic beverages, health and beauty claims.

The ASAI was established in 1981 and the objective of the ASAI Code 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 ASAI 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.

The ASAI offers advertisers, agencies, media and promoters a copy advice service on whether a proposed marketing communication or sales promotion conforms to the Code. Copy advice is communicated confidentially, is non-binding and is given free of charge. In total, 135 requests from advertisers, advertising agencies and media for copy advice were received in 2017. The number of requests, although lower than those received in 2016, were significantly higher than those received in previous years. The ASAI copy advice service serves as an authoritative opinion, given by the Executive but does not bind the ASAI Complaints Committee.

Complaints by sector are as follows, with comparative figures for 2016 and 2015:


SECTOR                                                          2017                2016                 2015

Health & Beauty                                          365                     110                   80

Non-Commercial                                        205                      40                    94

Telecommunications                                189                     248                 240

Leisure                                                             131                     159                  150

Food & Beverages                                       115                     126                   72

Financial                                                        101                      67                    55

Household                                                      95                     125                  101

Motoring                                                         87                      99                    66

Travel/Holidays                                           79                      78                    77

Business                                                           36                      20                   24

Clothing / Footwear                                   33                      33                    14

Property                                                          30                      22                     9

Alcohol                                                            25                      27                    34

Computers                                                     19                      19                    12

TV / Audio / Video                                      17                      27                    15

Publishing                                                      16                      27                    14

Education                                                       12                      15                      9

Employment/Business Opportunitie  10                      10                    13

Agriculture                                                      8                        1                       5

Miscellaneous                                           229                     123                   98

                                                                      1,802                1,376           1,182


In 2017, digital media gave rise to the largest block of complaints, with 777 complaints registered. This represents a significant increase on the same figure for the previous year (586). Digital media has been increasing steadily year on year. In 2010, it represented 22% of all complaints, compared to 43% in 2017. Complaints relating to broadcast media (TV and radio combined) totalled 567, while outdoor media attracted 138 complaints.


Complaints by Media are as follows, with comparative figures for 2016 and 2015:


Complaints by Media

MEDIA   2017 2016 2015
Digital Media   777 586 449
Broadcast   567 354 356
Outdoor   138 118 169
Print   94 71 87
Brochures / Leaflets   72 74 45
Cinema   18 14 5
Direct Marketing   14 10 8
Other   122 57 78
       1802         1,284         1,197








Radio 147 127 118
Television 420 227 238


The ASAI conducts ongoing monitoring of advertising across all media and since 2007, has examined nearly 30,000 advertisements, with an overall compliance rate of 98 per cent. The organisation, which is financed by the advertising industry, also offers free confidential and non-binding copy advice on the compliance of proposed advertising.

Orla Twomey, CEO of the ASAI, speaking at the launch of the 2017 ASAI Annual Report, said:

“The ASAI is committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland and our 2017 Annual Report echoes this statement, conveying the sheer breadth of advertisements adjudicated on by the ASAI’s independent Complaints Committee.

Partly in tandem with awareness campaigns of our range of services, the ASAI experienced a 58% surge in complaints since last year, a trend we expect to continue going forward. Despite a large increase in the number of complaints, we’re delighted to see that compliance with the adjudications of the independent Complaints Committee has remained consistent demonstrating that advertisers in Ireland are completely on board with the ASAI in our bid to protect consumers and ensure the highest standards of advertising and marketing communications.

 The ASAI’s Copy Advice Service also remains an important part of our remit and we would encourage any advertiser who has a concern in relation to their proposed marketing communications in 2018 and beyond, to get in touch and avail of the confidential and free service. 135 copy advice requsts were submitted to the ASAI in 2017 as we continue to work with advertisers, in the interest of consumers, to ensure that all marketing practices in Ireland are legal, decent, honest and truthful. I believe that the ASAI Annual Report for 2017 underpins that commitment.”

 Sean O’Meara, Chairman of the ASAI, says:

“Once again, I am honoured to present the Annual Report  for 2017, which was another outstanding year for the ASAI. During 2017, the ASAI continued reaching out to practitioners in the advertising industry to build awareness of the ASAI and our Code. Furthermore, the Authority continued its endeavours to ensure that those involved in the creation and production of advertising see and recognise the ASAI as a trusted advisor in the creation of Code-compliant advertising, rather than solely as complaints resolution organisation.

 It is evident that there is an increased awareness of the ASAI and its role amongst the general public and media. In addition to these outreach activities, the ASAI contributed in the process of the development of voluntary codes of practice for food marketing and advertising and in a review of telecommunications advertising with government Departments, industry and interested parties.

 This Annual Report demonstrates the extensive remit of the ASAI Code, particularly in relation to digital and online media. There is, I’m sure, no need for me to remind anyone of the continuing pace and breadth of the development of new digital communications platforms. We possess, and sometimes live by, hand-held devices that we regard as highly personal, even intimate. Addiction to Internet services and apps. What impresses me most about the ASAI is that our Board, our Executive and the various sub- committees have their fingers on today’s pulse. As our CEO, Orla Twomey, said during a radio interview, the ASAI follows the advertising and goes where it leads.”


The ASAI accepts complaints from any person or body who considers that a marketing communication may be in breach of the ASAI Code


Check out www.asai for more details and to also access a

copy of the 2017 ASAI Annual Report


To keep up to date on ASAI activity, follow the organisation on Twitter @THE_ASAI

Core announces Chloe Barton and Ciara Brennan from AIB as winners of the Cannes Young Lions ‘Core Young Marketers’ prize

  • Chloe and Ciara will form part of the IAPI team travelling to Cannes Young Lions 2018
  • Core celebrate further success as Alice Sheehan and Jamie Fulham win the 2018 ‘Media’ category

Chloe Barton and Ciara Brennan from AIB have been named as the winners of the ‘Young Marketers’ category of IAPI’s Cannes Young Lions Competition 2018 which is sponsored by Core, Ireland’s largest marketing communications group.

Chloe and Ciara, who worked as a team to create their entry for the competition, will now travel to the Cannes Lions Festival in June to represent Ireland in the global ‘Young Marketers’ contest, competing against the best young creative marketing talent from over 100 countries. Upon arriving in Cannes, they will have just 24 hours to answer a brief set by a non-profit organisation.

The Cannes Lions Festival is an eight-day long international festival of creative thinking, digital innovation, education and networking. Attended by nearly 20,000 delegates from all over the world, it is the benchmark for the very best in global creativity.

The ‘Young Marketers’ competition is an opportunity for the brightest professional minds working in the industry to demonstrate their strategic thinking and creative approach to solving important marketing challenges. Core recognises that creativity is not simply reserved for agencies – it’s at the heart of clients’ businesses too.

TO WIN AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL TO CANNES, Entrants, who had to be aged 30 years or under, were asked to develop a ‘big idea’ for, the website which allows people to check their eligibility to vote in elections and referenda.

A host of entries were submitted to the competition from a range of client companies in Ireland and the judging panel consisted of:

  • Shane Doyle, Group Strategic Director, Core
  • Rory Hamilton, Executive Creative Director, Boys and Girls
  • Emer Howard, Creative Director, Ringers
  • Enda Falvey, Franchise Section, Dept of Housing, Planning and Local Government
  • Dave Bass, Strategic Marketing Director, Kerry Foods

Core has had further success in the Cannes Young Lions Competition as two of their own – Alice Sheehan from Zenith and Jamie Fullam from Core – have been announced as winners of the Media category. Their submission was based on creating a media strategy for Epilepsy Ireland, where they were tasked with creating a campaign to de-stigmatise the condition and create awareness and talkability around the illness.

Alice and Jamie will join Chloe and Ciara, forming part of the Irish IAPI contingent in Cannes. A team of twelve Young Lions in total will travel to Cannes with IAPI, representing the best young creative talent in Ireland in the areas of marketing, media, social media, PR, print and film. 

Shane Doyle, Group Strategic Director, Core, says:

The ‘Young Marketers’ prize recognises that creativity is no longer simply reserved for agencies – it’s at the heart of clients’ businesses too. International research proves that creatively-awarded campaigns are six times more efficient than non-awarded campaigns in growing market share. This process begins and ends with the client and Core believes that great work really does start with brave and imaginative clients.  

The even better news is that standard of entry for the ‘Young Marketers’ competition this year was extremely high, illustrating the wealth of creative potential of Ireland’s young marketers. Core is absolutely delighted to be in a position to support the next generation of marketers to unleash their creative thinking.”

Mark Doyle, Head of Brand Engagement at AIB, says:

“Everyone here in AIB is really delighted for Chloe and Ciara and the award is a huge testament to the hard work they’ve put in.  It’s absolutely fantastic news for the AIB Group Marketing team and highlights the journey we’ve been on over the last number of years and the talent that we’ve built up on the team.  I’m sure they will do us proud in Cannes and best of luck to everyone on Team Ireland”. 

Chloe Barton and Ciara Brennan, winners of the Young Marketers competition, say:

“We are delighted to be Young Lions this year and representing AIB at the Cannes Lions event. Working on a brief which encompassed collaboration between AIB and encouraged us to think both strategically and creatively. We can’t wait to travel to Cannes to see as much of the Festival of Creativity as we can and we’re looking forward to representing Ireland against international competitors!”

For further details, please check out


@Core_IRL #CannesLions



Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland hosts ‘Inform and Engage’ event at Facebook International HQ, Dublin for Irish Bloggers and Influencers

  • ASAI launch additional guidance in the form of FAQ’s for bloggers and influencers in relation to the disclosure of marketing communications 

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (The ASAI) has launched additional guidance for Irish Bloggers and ‘Influencers’ in relation to the disclosure of marketing communications online at an event in Facebook International HQ, Dublin.

The guidance, in the form of FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions), will work in conjunction with previous ASAI guidance in this area and the existing ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland.

Over 100 Irish bloggers, influencers, marketers and advertisers attended the ASAI ‘Inform and Engage’ event in Dublin’s Docklands to discuss advertising standards and best practice. The platform ‘Inform and Engage’ builds on ASAI’s work to date within this sector to help educate and support Irish bloggers in relation to their influencer marketing campaigns and to ensure transparency and best practice in the interest of consumers, so that their marketing communications are always, legal, decent, honest and truthful.

A range of topics which directly relate to the advertising of products and services through the medium of online blogs, social media accounts and via influencer marketing were discussed, with a Q&A session also taking place.

The ASAI’s objective is to work with advertisers to ensure that all engaged in the area of advertising via social media and influencer marketing, are equipped with the knowledge and resources to correctly identify commercial marketing content across their platforms.

The guidance on the ‘Recognisability of Marketing Communications’ issued by the ASAI outlines the general requirements of advertisers across social media, including:

  • Independent Reviews, including Blogger and Vloggers
  • Recognisability
  • Key watch outs
  • Free Products

Orla Twomey, CEO of the ASAI, says:

The ASAI has seen massive growth in the area of influencer marketing in recent years. Bloggers and those who carry significant influence on social media are becoming increasingly more important within the world of advertising. As a result, the ASAI have engaged with this sector at a number of information events for bloggers and influencers to highlight their responsibilities and the importance of being transparent, legal, decent, honest and truthful. We’re delighted to welcome bloggers and influencers to Facebook HQ to speak with them directly in relation to their advertising and promotions in the interest of best practice and fairness.

The ASAI is committed to protecting consumers in relation to advertising and our approach is to work with all advertisers, rather than against them, to ultimately ensure that all marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest. However, it is essential that bloggers are now up to speed with ASAI in relation to our code and their responsibilities both to consumers and to society. The ASAI provide a free and confidential copy advice service to advertisers, agencies and media members to help them create responsible ads.”

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’. The organisation also offers free confidential and non-binding copy advice on the compliance of proposed advertising.

The ASAI accepts complaints from any person or body who considers that a marketing communication may be in breach of the Code. To view the full ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland (7th edition), go to 


NEW ASAI FAQ’s can be found here:


To find out more or to view the new ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland (7th edition),

go to or follow the ASAI on Twitter @ THE_ASAI

Core celebrates European Search Awards nomination for ‘Best Large Integrated Search Agency’

Core, Ireland’s largest marketing communications agency, has been shortlisted for ‘Best Large Integrated Search Agency’ at the renowned European Search Awards, which recognise digital marketing excellence and celebrate the very best in SEO, PPC, Digital and Content Marketing in Europe.

Core is one of just 10 agencies from across Europe nominated for this category and the winners will be announced in Prague, Czech Republic on Wednesday 16 May 2018.

The European Search Awards are widely considered as one of the most rigorously judged competitions of their kind. All shortlisted entries go through a robust two-step judging process, a process overseen by an influential and respected international judging panel.

With a search portfolio of over 40 brands, including leading Irish and international brands, Core works in partnership with their clients to ensure search is a key aspect of any campaign and does not sit in isolation.

Although a straightforward channel, search requires a deep specialism to leverage its potential and Core has invested in the talent and tools to provide this specialism as part of an integrated media and marketing mix for clients. At Core, the search specialists sit side-by-side with media planners, data analysts, content creators and sponsorship consultants, ensuring that search delivers effective activity, while informing and enhancing other media channel investment.

Aisling Blake, Chief Digital Officer at Core, says: “In a world where people are always connected, search marketing has never been a more powerful channel for advertisers. It is a signpost and conduit; delivering potential customers through to a brand’s website or app in a simple and cost-effective way.

At Core, our DNA is formed by the belief we can achieve more together than anyone can alone. The search team within Core has proven that through investment, and a collaborative approach, we deliver results and develop strong relationships. As a result, we’re really delighted to be nominated for two awards at the European Search Awards 2018 as it is proof that integration and collaboration are wining ingredients. The successful retention of clients, the winning of more business and the retention of staff year-on-year, confirm that as an integrated agency, we have taken that to new heights.”

Core, formerly known as Core Media, has undergone a re-organisation in recent months and is now made up of nine distinct practices – Creative, Data, Investment, Learning, Media, Recruitment, Research, Sponsorship and Strategy. The company also incorporates Mediaworks, Spark Foundry, Starcom and Zenith.

Core has been voted Agency Network of the Year for the last five years at the Media Awards and the company was also recently voted one of the top workplaces in Ireland by the Great Place to Work Institute for the ninth year running.

For further details, please check out

New V360°agency unveiled by The Visualise Group will deliver full 360° shopper solution for clients


A new multi-disciplinary shopper agency which will deliver a full shopper solution from insight and strategy right through to final execution has been unveiled by industry experts The Visualise Group.

Called V360°, the agency has been formed by integrating the insight and strategy services previously offered through its partnership with Engage consultants with the creative design and execution services offered by The Visualise Group. V360° will combine three-way insight into consumers, shoppers and retailers to create shopper solutions that solve business challenges and ultimately create positive enduring change in shopper behaviour.

The new agency will work across shopper marketing, sales, category development, shopper experience and shopper culture. It will also offer a range of training and capability services through a continuing relationship with Engage.

Clients of V360° include PepsiCo, Kerry Foods, Unilever, Molson Coors, Freshways Food Co., Flahavan’s, Glanbia, 2 Sisters Food Group, Bord Bia and Pladis, amongst others.

The agency will be headed up by Ciaran FitzGerald, Chairman of The Visualise Group, and joint Managing Directors Eoghan Phelan and Stephen Rust. The remainder of the management team consists of Robert Flavin, Strategic Planning Director, and Seamus Doogue, Client Services Director.

Ciaran FitzGerald, Chairman of The Visualise Group, says: “There is now a real demand among clients for an agency partner who can deliver a 360° shopper solution from insight right through to execution. Over the past three years, we have seen increasing synergy between the insight and strategy services we offered through Engage and The Visualise Group’s creative and execution division. It got to the stage where we felt the timing was right to combine both offerings into one clear proposition for clients.”

“Today’s increasingly complex and fragmented marketplace has created a requirement for a greater understanding of shopper needs and behaviour than ever before, and for simple, actionable shopper solutions that drive profitable growth. V360° will combine three-way insight into consumers, shoppers and retailers to leverage brand equity into action and ultimately create shopper solutions that solve business challenges by creating positive enduring change in shopper behaviour.”

Established in 2003, The Visualise Group provides a range of business services which align the needs of brands and retailers. In addition to creating the new V360° agency, The Visualise Group’s shopper media and digital signage offering will now sit under a newly created agency called VMedia.

The Visualise Group employs 21 people across the V360° and VMedia brands.