Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 5 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Principals/Decency & Propriety, Misleading/Substantiation/Presentation and Alcohol

29 July 2020 – The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 7 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

5 of the 7 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Principles/Decency & Propriety, Misleading/Substantiation/Presentation and Alcohol. The advertisements complained of related to Regional Press, Television, Online and Outdoor advertising. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold two consumer complaints.

The Complaints Committee is a completely independent arm of the ASAI and is responsible for considering and 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 –

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 organisations (SROs), such as the ASAI, is to ensure that ads and other marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society and with proper respect for the principles of fair competition.”

“The ASAI is committed to protecting society in relation to advertising across all mediums. Self-regulatory ad standards provide an additional layer of consumer protection which complements legislative controls and offers an easily accessible means of resolving disputes.”

“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
  Procter & Gamble     Principles/Decency & Propriety    84 complaints were received in relation to the “Tampons & Tea” advert.   Issue 1 – General Offence Some complainants considered it to be offensive and inappropriate to talk about such a sensitive topic in the manner portrayed and that the content had been over-descriptive, inappropriately expressed and with excessive detail.   In breach of section 3:16 of the Code   Complaints Upheld.   Issue 2 – Demeaning to Women Some complainants considered the advertising to be demeaning to women and belittled them.   Complaints Not Upheld.   Issue 3 – Sexual Innuendo Some complainants considered the phrase “get ‘em up there, girls” to have sexual connotations.   Complaints Not Upheld.   Issue 4 – Suitability for Children Some complainants considered the advertising to be unsuitable for daytime television while children may be watching and said it should not have aired before 9pm.   Complaints Not Upheld.   Link:
  System 10    Principles/Health& Beauty/Slimming    The complainant objected to the advertising on the following grounds:   Issue 1: The complainant said while there were studies that had found metabolism problems in ME or CFS, there were also studies showing brain inflammation and defects with red blood.   In breach of section 11.1 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Issue 2: The complainant objected to paragraph four of the article on the grounds that it could cause harm to an ME patient.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Issue 3: The ASAI Executive requested comments from the advertisers on the weight loss claims contained within the advertisement that featured beside the advertising article.   In breach of section 11.1 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:  
  Three Ireland (Hutchinson)   Misleading/Substantiation/Availability of Products   The complainant viewed the advertisement and, as an existing customer, wanted to upgrade their phone and avail of the offer. The complainant was advised that the offer was not available to existing customers.    In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:    
  Dunnes Stores   Misleading/Substantiation/Presentation   Three complaints were received regarding the advertising. The complainants considered that the statements “€10 off every €50” and “Get €10 off your next grocery shop with every €50 you spend” were misleading because customers who spent €50 received a €10 voucher off a subsequent shop of €50.   In breach of section 4.1 and 4.4 and 5.5 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:
  LeCoq Cocktails   Alcohol   Issue 1 The complainant said that the influencer featured in the advertisement was under 25 and therefore should not have appeared in an advertisement promoting alcohol as a prize to a competition.   Issue 2 The complainant also considered that the post had used suggestive sexual content.   Issue 3 The complainant considered that the audience for the advertisement had not been vetted to ensure that it was over 18 years of age and that some of the influencer’s followers may be under 18.   In breach of section 9.7 (a) of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link:  

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

Company/Organisation Complaint Category Further Details
  Hidden Hearing     Decency & Propriety   Three complaints were received regarding the advertising.   Issue 1 The advertising was offensive to young people who use hearing aids as it implied that only older people used hearing aids.   Issue 2 One complainant referred to the statement “Are you deaf or something?” being said in a joking manner.   Issue 3 Two of the complainants considered that the advertisement was offensive to deaf people as it equated the ability to hear with being ‘normal’, therefore, implying that deaf people were not normal.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link:    
  Circle K   Promotions   The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading in relation to the claim that the fuel card was 100% free, as the terms and conditions stated that there was a fee of €25 for all new account applications.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Link:  

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. Advertisements found to be in breach of the Code cannot be accepted for publication.

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