1,648 complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) in 2020 and 63 advertisements found to be in breach of ASAI Code

2020 ASAI Annual Report shows significant majority (68%) of complaints were made

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

28 April 2021

A total of 1,648 written complaints concerning 1,072 advertisements were received by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) last year, according to the organisation’s 2020 Annual Report which was released today. This represents an 12.6% decrease on the number of complaints received in 2019, while the number of advertisements complained about increased by just over 22% compared to the same figure for 2019.

The ‘Health & Beauty’ sector attracted the greatest number of complaints (308), followed by ‘Telecommunications (201), and ‘Leisure’ (142). ‘Digital Media’ gave rise to the highest number of complaints by media (871), representing 52% of all complaints, while complaints relating to broadcast media (TV and radio combined) totalled 631, and outdoor media attracted 36 complaints. Of the 871 digital media complaints, 70 complaints related to influencer marketing advertisements, which were 4% of all complaints received.

The ASAI, which is the independent self-regulatory body committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications, found that 63 advertisements were in breach of the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications.

The ASAI Annual Report outlines that 68% of the complaints made in 2020 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 promotional marketing practices, food and non-alcoholic beverages, health & beauty, e-cigarettes, children, alcohol advertising, slimming and gambling.

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’. 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, 115 requests from advertisers, advertising agencies and media for copy advice were received in 2020, 18% lower than received in 2019. The ASAI copyadvice@asai.ie 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 2019 and 2018:

SECTOR                                                        2020                2019                2018   

HEALTH & BEAUTY                                          308                     230                 166

TELECOMMUNICATIONS                                 201                     139                 193

LEISURE                                                           142                     172                 222

TRAVEL/HOLIDAYS                                          131                     170                 102

HOUSEHOLD                                                    110                     104                 100

FOOD & BEVERAGES                                      105                     137                 289

MOTORING                                                       83                       161                 100

CLOTHING/FOOTWEAR                                    76                       102                 80

NON-COMMERCIAL*                                         63                       170                 158

FINANCIAL                                                        49                       107                 75

ALCOHOL                                                         41                       31                  26

PROPERTY                                                      30                       27                  17

PUBLISHING                                                     24                       44                  12

BUSINESS                                                        23                       26                  37

COMPUTERS                                                    13                       15                  18

EMPLOYMENT/BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES    13                       6                    9

EDUCATION                                                     7                        48                  11

AGRICULTURE                                                 4                        3                    9

TV/AUDIO/VIDEO                                              4                        8                    20

MISCELLANEOUS                                             187 203                 103

                                                                        1,614                  1,903              1,747

Complaints by Media are as follows, with comparative figures for 2019 and 2018:

Complaints by Media

MEDIA                          2020              2019            2018

Digital Media            871                        976                        948

Broadcast                631                        552                        516

Brochures/Leaflets    38                          63                          58

Outdoor                   36                          226                        350

Print                         34                          80                          91

Direct Marketing       23                          61                          49

Cinema                    4                           4                           12

other                        44                          59                          95


The ASAI conducts ongoing monitoring of advertising across all media including monitoring compliance with the adjudications of the Independent Complaints Committee.

In terms of engagement highlights, ASAI welcomed Google as the first corporate member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), and a partner of the ad self-regulatory (SR) network. This new partnership with a well-established and recognised advertising self-regulatory network demonstrates Google’s commitment to responsible advertising.

In marking the significance of this development, ASAI noted that Google was the first digital pure play company to join the Alliance alongside 13 other industry associations representing the various stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem, which are all committed to ensuring responsible advertising and 28 advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs), including the ASAI, which administer and enforce national advertising self-regulatory codes.

In 2020, the ASAI also continued its ongoing focus on providing information and guidance to the influencer and blogger industry. As part of this, ASAI conducted research around consumer sentiment in this area which revealed just over half (51%) of people in Ireland say they are concerned by a lack of transparency in influencer marketing. With transparency being a significant aspect of the ASAI’s brief in seeking to maintain the highest standards in advertising, this statistic demonstrates the level of consumer concern in a growth marketing area. The concept of transparency is one that the ASAI continues to strongly promote amongst advertisers, and particularly in the growth area of influencer marketing.

Commenting on the 2020 Annual Report, Orla Twomey, CEO of the ASAI, said:

“The ASAI is committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland and our 2020 Annual Report is testament to this statement, conveying the sheer breadth of advertisements adjudicated on by the ASAI’s independent Complaints Committee.

“The engagement with the ASAI and compliance with the adjudication of the independent Complaints Committee, demonstrates 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.

“2020 saw the ASAI continue to deeply engage in all our service offerings. In particular, there was a valuable increase with both our influence and strong contributions in the area of policy and Code including: unsubstantiated or misleading claims about Covid-19, welcoming Google to the EASA Network, and influencer marketing and recognisability. The requirement for ASAI contributions in these areas, all of national importance, are indicative of the place we hold as an acknowledged expert on setting standards for advertising.”

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

In the 40 years since the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland was founded in 1981 by some of the then most far-seeing fathers of our industry, there have been many years in which challenges were real, varied, and unpredictable and had to be grappled with.

“However, it is doubtful if any year threw up the extreme conditions that we have witnessed in 2020. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our worlds were, and continue to be, turned upside down when all normal and predictive thinking was thrown out the window. Working and communicating remotely became, and remain, the necessary norm.

“It is my honour to pay tribute to everyone associated with the ASAI for their quite remarkable dedication, loyalty and supports during the past twelve months. While it is difficult to predict how 2021 will be, the one thing we can all be sure of is that 2020 has given us the opportunity to successfully leverage our extensive capabilities as the Irish advertising regulator. We have embraced the challenges and opportunities presented while continuing to thrive and flourish, always with a view to ensuring the highest standards of advertising for all stakeholders.”

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 2020 ASAI Annual Report

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

The Sunday Times unveils new ‘Home’ supplement featuring 32 pages of eco / sustainable living, food, property and travel content

  • Best-selling Irish author and journalist Eithne Shortall appointed editor of Home
  • Home offers perfect advertising platform for brands across food, travel, and property

The Sunday Times will unveil a new supplement on 2nd May which will include top coverage on property, including the market both in Ireland and overseas, plus a range of content on eco and sustainable living, food, and travel. Entitled Home, the 32-page full colour magazine will help readers to buy and sell their home, furnish it, tend to the garden, create the perfect home office, plus advice on working from home, and working out athome. The former Move section in the Sunday Times will become part of this new Home supplement.

The arrival of the new supplement is extremely timely given that after a time of unprecedented upheaval, people are now thinking more deeply about how to arrange the protective shell called Home, as a respite from the socially distanced virus-ravaged world outside; as a comfort bubble where we don’t wear masks or endlessly clean surfaces. Home will also offer the perfect advertising platform for a wide range of brands across food, travel and property.

International bestselling Irish author and journalist, Eithne Shortall has been appointed editor of Home. She was previously the arts correspondent for the Sunday Times Ireland Edition and has also worked as a TV and radio presenter. The new supplement is an exciting personal project for Eithne and has come to fruition thanks to her passion for this area and her overall vision for the project.

Commenting on the new Home supplement Eithne said: “This section is going to be personable. It will have a familiar Home-ly feel, and the focus will be on people rather than things. A top team of writers will report on property, interiors, cooking, gardening, eco-living and many other subjects, giving advice and expertise, but also putting their own personality into the pieces.”

John Burns, Acting Editor of the Sunday Times, added: “This is the biggest change we have made to the newspaper in years, and I am really excited about this project. Home will cover not just Ireland, but also bring you the best coverage on property and lifestyle from the UK and further overseas. Above all, it will let our readers indulge in everyone’s favourite hobby – having a look around other people’s homes in order to get ideas for our own.”



SSE Airtricity Appoints Core as Sponsorship Consultants


SSE Airtricity has appointed Core Sponsorship as key advisors for their Sponsorship Portfolio, both for existing and future sponsorships. These include Title Sponsor of the League of Ireland Premier and First Division (football) and Women’s National League (football), The SSE Arena in Belfast and Sustainability Partner to Dublin Zoo.

As part of the appointment, Core Sponsorship will provide SSE Airtricity with ongoing strategic advice on the brand’s sponsorship activity and investment. Led by Noel Martyn, the team will also support the brand to source and evaluate new opportunities, as well as delivering best practice on the performance measurement of their properties.

This sponsorship measurement will be informed by Core’s National Sponsorship Index – Ireland’s only sponsorship index – developed to evaluate sponsorships impact on key business metrics. Other services within the sponsorship consultancy include contracting negotiations and activation strategy expertise.

Speaking about the announcement, Leanne Sheill, Marketing Manager – Sponsorship of SSE Airtricity:

“We are delighted to appoint Core Sponsorship and look forward to developing our relationship. Core Sponsorship will provide us with ongoing strategic advice– both for our sponsorship portfolio as well as any potential opportunities. Services provided include sponsorship strategy, contracting and measurement, in addition to keeping us up to date on emerging trends.”

Jill Downey, Managing Director, Core Sponsorship added:

“Not only do SSE Airtricity work with some of Ireland’s great cultural and sporting events, but central to the brand is a focus on sustainability. We are building considerable expertise in purpose-led partnerships so we are very excited to be working with an organisation like SSE Airtricity who can make a genuine difference for the environment. We already have some exciting plans, and we look forward to working closely with the brand team and their partners.”

The Shelter: Animal SOS

Episodes 3 and 4 sees the DSPCA tend to Trigger, a dog with a head injury, an injured fawn has emergency treatment while a terrapin is rescued from Dublin’s Grand Canal

  • Each episode offers an up close and personal look at the work of the DSPCA including the dedicated work of the veterinary team who fight to save the lives of the many domestic and wildlife animals that need their help every day

The Shelter: Animal SOS is a new series on RTÉ One that offers a behind the scenes look at the work conducted every day by the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), Ireland’s oldest and largest animal welfare organisation. The programme is being aired in partnership with Purina PRO PLAN – who are dedicated to the health and well-being of pets through premium nutrition.

The six-part series, filmed at the 32-acre DSPCA facility in the Dublin mountains over the course of a year, shares the trials and triumphs of a dedicated team of care-staff, vets and volunteers as they fight to save the lives of the many animals that need their help.

The series features a huge variety of animals – from cats and dogs to birds and ponies – and provides a unique perspective on the incredible work undertaken by the DSPCA team.

The Shelter: Animal SOS

Episode 3:

TX 7th May, 2021

Elise treats Trigger, a dog with a head injury and an injured kitten called Hero, who had tried to get across a busy dual carriageway.

Maria the pregnant Chihuahua goes out to a foster home to give birth.

An injured fawn is given emergency treatment.

The Shelter: Animal SOS

Episode 4:

TX 14th May, 2021

Ireland international rugby player and full time Vet Elise makes use of her sporting skills as she tries to round up a goat for treatment.

A surrendered terrier takes an emotional toll on Tanya.

Elise and Mandy treat a terrapin that was dumped in Dublin’s Grand Canal.

Cattery care staff member Colm looks after a lost hairless cat called Fluffy.

The DSPCA, which marked its 180th anniversary in 2020, is dedicated to the promotion of animal welfare and the protection and rehabilitation of sick, abused or neglected animals, and the organization says that the the television series will give the public a realistic behind the scenes look at the great work they do to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome over 2,500 animals every year.

The series has been produced as part of a partnership agreed between DSPCA, Purina PetCare and RTÉ earlier this year.

Elise O’Byrne White, Veterinary Surgeon at the DSPCA, said: “I volunteered here and I loved it so much I now work here! It’s a really unique place to work. I don’t think there’s anything else like it in private practice because we see so much here, including all sorts of cases involving cruelty and welfare. It’s also a great place to work in terms of the team. We’ve a great veterinary team and then when you look beyond that – we have a cattery, treatment facility and all of these places filled with caring, kind and fun people who are all trying to do the same thing as you. It’s such a great pleasure to be able to come into work every day and work with that team.”

Ben Warner from Purina PetCare added: “Purina is proud to have partnered with the DSPCA for over 15 years. The Shelter: Animal SOS shines a spotlight on the essential work we know their tireless team undertakes every single day. Our Purina PRO PLAN – which uses the power of science and high-quality ingredients to develop a superior range of products – really supports this work. Every cat and dog cared for by the DSPCA is provided with Purina PRO PLAN all year round, which support’s their development and rehabilitation.”

The DSPCA, a registered charity, is dedicated to the promotion of animal welfare and the protection and rehabilitation of sick, abused or neglected animals. Located on a 32-acre site in Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, the DSPCA campus offers shelter and care to a wide variety of animals. In fact, the organisation rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes over 2,500 animals each year – domestic and wildlife.

The DSPCA has a dedicated and trained force of Animal Welfare Inspectors to investigate complaints of cruelty and neglect, to provide guidance and education to animal owners, initiate prosecutions for offences and attend to sick and injured stray animals or those which have been abandoned.

The DSPCA Vet Team works seven days a week providing critical care, carrying out lifesaving surgeries and performing over 3,000 neuter/spay operations annually. They also provide ongoing care and veterinary support to over 300 animals in the DSPCA Foster Programme.

The DSPCA also works closely with the Irish Government to keep legislation updated and implemented to further improve the lives of all animals. Founded in 1840, the DSPCA is Ireland’s oldest and largest animal welfare organisation.

The Shelter: Animal SOS airs on Fridays at 8:30pm on RTÉ One and is available to watch on RTÉ Player

The Sunday Times announce industry first by replacing plastic packaging with new recyclable paper banding

In an industry first, The Sunday Times has announced a significant change to its packaging to reduce waste. From this Sunday, 25th April, The Sunday Times supplements will switch to using a recyclable paper banding instead of a plastic wrap in its mission to remove all single-use plastic from the newspaper. The paper banding is also available to advertisers as a fresh new and impactful advertising proposition.

The initiative is a significant step and is the final element of News Ireland Ltd’s plastics pledge to remove all single-use plastic used to wrap its titles and inner magazines. The move will reduce the amount of plastic from 15 tonnes to zero in its products. The organisation is currently sourcing 100% of its paper from sustainable management systems.

John Burns, Acting Editor at the Sunday Times, said: “We’re very pleased to introduce our new recyclable paper banding. We’ve put plastics at the centre of our sustainability drive, building on work to reduce our emissions further through a variety of initiatives. This new innovative format offers brands a great opportunity to engage with their audience in a unique way.”

Enet’s new 10GB connection for National Space Centre lays foundation for unprecedented 100GB capacity for space research in rural Cork

Enet, Ireland’s largest open access network provider, has successfully delivered a 10GB internet connection to the National Space Centre (NSC) in Elfordstown, Cork. Working against tight deadlines and connecting to the remote site, Enet completed installation of the 10GB ethernet connection as Phase 1 of a plan that will see planned capacity grow to 100GB, unprecedented in rural Ireland.

The Cork location is Europe’s most westerly teleport and Ireland’s only commercial ground station. Enet delivered the 10GB ethernet connection, which links the NSC to London, four months ahead of usual lead times and the connection is extremely significant given the rural location.

The connection is now supporting the National Space Centre as a world class carrier-grade commercial teleport. The €24M Elfordstown location provides commercial broadcast services, ground control support for satellites and spacecraft, academic research partnerships and space industry consulting. The NSC’s co-located Space Campus is also home to more than a dozen Irish space start-ups and EU-headquartered space enterprises.

Opened as Elfordstown Earthstation in 1984 at a cost of IR£8M, approximately €25M today, the facility celebrated ten years of operation as the NSC in 2020. The refurbished site has grown from five initial antennas to 33 antennas on-site in 2021. These range from a variety of dishes as small as 3.7M to the site’s flagship 32M dish, known as The Big Dish.

Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO of the National Space Centre, said: “NSC is increasing capacity as the first step in a major backbone upgrade focused on Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Our rural location outside Midleton means we have a hugely advantageous position as Europe’s most westerly teleport. It also means that as we grow, we can face infrastructure delivery issues we could not overcome without the commitment of key partners like Enet.”

CEO of Speed Fibre Group, which is home to Enet, Peter McCarthy said: “This 10GB connection for the National Space Centre demonstrates Enet’s ability to deliver a wholesale connectivity service on a truly nationwide basis. We’re also delighted that we delivered this connection four months ahead of usual lead times. To be in a position to offer a 100GB connection as a phase 2 option is also evidence of our ability to deliver scalability to enterprises right across the country – helping to facilitate their growth, which, in turn, supports the wider Irish economy.”

Jen Walsh, Head of Digital, appointed to the board of Zenith

Zenith, part of Core, has appointed Jen Walsh, Head of Digital, to the board. Her appointment is part of Zenith’s commitment to continual development of digital capabilities within Zenith, and to analysing and predicting client’s digital needs.

Walsh has been in Zenith for five years, having previously held digital leadership roles in IPG as well as working as a digital design consultant with SMEs and charities. She has been integral to the growth of Zenith’s digital offering through her own expertise, her development of a digital team within Zenith, and her focus on building digital capabilities in and out of the agency.

Speaking of her appointment, Jen Walsh says

I am proud to join the board of Zenith with the ambition of building on the great work we’ve already achieved. Zenith and Core have always worked hard to deliver the best strategic thinking, innovation and performance. With the changing landscape across tech and commerce, as well as the business implications from the pandemic, we are committed to providing our clients with this strategic value and insight to face future opportunities and challenges. I am very much looking forward to being part of the driving force in Zenith and to continue to make a positive impact on our clients business.

Chris Nolan, Managing Director of Zenith, says

In the time I have worked with Jen she has demonstrated clear vision on what we can achieve within the ever expanding and complex world of digital. She understands that our clients not only rely on us to keep them up to speed on what is coming, and the consequences of the constantly changing environment, but also to be their trusted advisors across all of digital. Jen understands how to balance deep digital expertise and ensure the area is accessible to everyone.

Zenith have seen fantastic growth over the last nine months, having won a pitch for the IDA last year, as well as retaining Reckitt Benckiser and KFC. They have started 2021 with growth not only on 2020 but on 2019. This strengthening of the leadership team will enable them to maintain their momentum throughout the year and onwards.

Zenith is part of Core. Core employs a team of 330 people and consists of eight practices – Creative, Data, Investment, Learning, Media (comprising of Mediaworks, Spark Foundry, Starcom and Zenith), Research, Sponsorship and Strategy. Core has been voted one of the top workplaces in Ireland by the Great Place to Work Institute for the tenth year running.