Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 6 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Misleading, Misleading / Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Misleading /Promotions

2nd March 2021 – 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.

6 outof the 7 advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Misleading, Misleading / Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Misleading / Promotions. The advertisements complained of related to Television, Online – Influencer’s Social Media Account, Radio and Press. The ASAI Complaints Committee chose not to uphold one consumer complaint.

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 variety of platforms, and demonstrates how we ensure that ads in Ireland stick to the advertising rules. 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, through its adjudications, 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 advertisements that have been found to be in breach of the ASAI Code:

Company/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  Ryanair  Misleading    59 complaints were received about the advertising.   Issue 1 (a) Most of the complainants challenged whether the advertising had the potential to mislead consumers and considered that there was no guarantee that they would be able to travel to the destinations referenced in the advertising by Easter 2021.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Issue 1 (b) Some complainants queried the reference to the claim that ‘If your plans change so you can your booking” and queried whether they would incur an additional cost to change their booking.   Complaint not Upheld.   Issue 2 Complainants queried whether the advertisement conflicted with public health guidelines, which had the potential to change and whether it would be safe to travel at the time referenced in the advertising.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of Sections 3.3 and 4.4 of the Code     Issue 3 Some complainants considered that the advertising was irresponsible, insensitive and offensive and trivialised the effects which the pandemic was having on society and in particular front-line workers.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of Section 3.3 of the Code   Issue 4 ASAI Executive raised Code section 11.16 which provided that prescription only medicines may not be advertised to the public.   Complaint Not Upheld.   Overall, advertising was in breach of sections 3.3, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Complaint Issues 1a, 2 and 3 Upheld.   Link:  
  Nestle Nutrition  Misleading /Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages    Issue 1: The advertisers stated that the advertisement had referred to the ‘transfer of antibodies’ and the ‘forging of neural pathways’ as examples of the fascinating effect a baby had on the mother. They said they did not claim that their formula milk reproduced those effects; instead, they said that these examples of unwavering care had inspired them.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code     Issue 2: The advertisers said that the advertisement featured an approved health claim for Vitamins D as both a voice-over and as on-screen text. They said that the use of a health claim was permitted if the quantity of the product that can reasonably be expected to be consumed provided a significant quantity of the nutrient or other substance to which the claim relates.   Complaint Not upheld.   Overall, advertising was in breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.   Complaint at Issue 1 Upheld.   Link:  
  Tesco Ireland    Misleading/Promotions  The complainant, on viewing the advertisement, noted that the offer was promoted as being for the bank holiday weekend. On visiting their local store on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend they were advised that the offer was over. As the advertisement had not included any information on the availability of the offer, they considered that the advertising was misleading.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of sections 4.1, 5.5 and 5.15 (c) of the Code.   Link:  
  Goldcore    Misleading  The complainant objected to the statement “Ireland’s most trusted metal experts” as they did not consider that the advertiser was in a position to substantiate the claim.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of sections 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Link:  
  Blackberry Hearing  Misleading  Specsavers Optical Group Limited objected to the advertising on the following grounds:   Issue 1: Specsavers considered that the claim “Ireland’s Best Hearing Aid provider” on the advertisers’ home page had not been substantiated.   Issue 2: Specsavers considered that the statement ‘We offer the best technology at the best prices.” on the “Our Story” section of the advertisers’ website constituted a comparative claim.   Issue 3: Specsavers objected to the statement “We do not own retail shops on the high-street and we don’t advertise on TV or in National Newspapers; this allows us to offer you, our customers, lower prices than our competitors” on the grounds that there did not appear to be any basis for asserting that the cost of TV or national newspaper advertisements was in some way connected to hearing aid prices offered by competitors.   Complaints at Issue 1, 2 and 3 Upheld.   In breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 4.31, 4.32 and 4.33 of the Code.   Link:  
  Independent  Misleading  The complainant considered that the advertisement was misleading as the advertised price reduction was based on the price charged by a third party and not by the advertisers.   Complaint Upheld.   In breach of section 4.26 of the Code.   Link:    

The following advertisement was investigated and the ASAI Complaints Committee found that it did not breach the Code on the grounds raised in the complaints.

Company/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  SuperValu   Misleading  The complainant considered that the offer was in breach of the Code as they did not believe that sufficient stock had been sourced for the promotion.   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.

Media members are reminded that advertisements found to be in breach of the Code cannot be accepted for publication.

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