Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland releases latest Complaints Bulletin

  • 8 advertisements found to be in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds relating to Recognisability, Misleading/Substantiation, Availability, and Principles/ /Prices

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) independent Complaints Committee has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 8 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

All 8 of the advertisements were found to have been in breach of the ASAI Code on grounds related to Recognisability, Misleading/Substantiation, Availability and Principles/Prices. The advertisements complained of related to the Internet and Social Media. One of those which was partly upheld related to intra industry / interested party 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 online platforms, in particular social media, 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 complaints that have been found to be in breach of the ASAI Code:

Company/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  Women’s Best    Recognisability    The complainant objected to the advertising as it had not been declared as commercial content.   In breach of sections 3.32 and 3.32 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link:
    Pretty Little Thing / Emma Kehoe     Recognisability    The complainant considered that the posts indicated a commercial relationship between the influencer and the brand which was not disclosed so therefore felt the posts were misleading.   In breach of section 4.1, 4.4, 3.31 and 3.32 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:  
  Imagine  Principles / Misleading / Substantiation  The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading. While the online availability checker indicated the service was available according to results for the complainant’s Eircode, the complainant was advised by the advertisers on a number of occasions that the service was not yet available at their address.   In breach of sections 3.10, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, and 4.10 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:  
  Shaw Academy  Misleading/Substantiation  The complainant considered the advertisement not to be offering free access but a free trial of a paid subscription service, which was difficult to cancel during a free trial period. She considered that the free trial did not give unlimited access, as indicated in the advertisement, and only allowed students to complete one module of a course.   The complainant considered the photograph of a diploma to be misleading as it was not possible to gain a diploma in four weeks. She also said the essential course materials cost extra and were not included in the free trial.   In breach of section 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:  
  Apple  Misleading / Substantiation / Availability  The complainant considered the delivery dates for the advertised product to be misleading. Having ordered the product, she initially received an email confirming delivery between the two dates. However, four days later she received a subsequent email stating that the product would be delivered between 18th and 22nd May. On checking she was told that there were more orders than anticipated.   In breach of section 4.1 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld. Link:  
  Classic Hits  Misleading / Substantiation  The complainant considered the image of the Old City (of Jerusalem), specifically the Walls of the Armenian Quarter, when taken alongside the text “Fly to Israel for as little as €319, from May 2020. Enjoy a sunset on Tel Aviv beach, tour the historic city of Jerusalem or float in the dead sea.” was clearly intended to convey that Jerusalem’s Old City was part of Israel and not “occupied and illegally colonised area.” He said this was universally recognised as such in International Law, and by the UN Security Council, by the UN General Assembly, by the European Union, by the Irish Government, and by all major human rights organisations.   In breach of sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:    
  Optilase  Principles / Misleading / Substantiation / Prices  The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading. She said that she was quoted a price without any discount applied. She was then told that the price included the 15% discount which was available to all customers. She felt that there was no additional discount available to members with health insurance policies.   In breach of sections 3.10, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.22.   Complaint Upheld.   Link:

The ASAI upheld one complaint in part made by Intra Industry / Interested Parties in the following case:

Company/OrganisationComplaint CategoryFurther Details
  Virgin Media   Misleading /Substantiation  Two complaints were received regarding the advertising, one from Sky Ireland while the other was submitted by an individual consumer complainant.   Issue 1: Sky Ireland considered that the advertising was misleading, inaccurate and exaggerated the performance of the service, which they believed was detrimental to consumers and prevented them from making an informed choice about their broadband service. They did not believe that the claim could be substantiated by Virgin Media and they believed that the test results had been misused.   Issue 2: In regard to the “Learn about broadband” webpage, Sky Ireland considered that this webpage was making further claims about Virgin Media being “Officially the fastest Broadband network in Ireland” and had compared their 360Mbps product with Sky’s 100Mbps product. They considered that this was inaccurate and misleading and was not a fair comparison, particularly as Sky were selling a fibre to the home product with speeds of up to 1Gbps.   Issue 3: The complainant considered that the claim to be “Ireland’s fastest broadband network” was untruthful, particularly as two other operators were offering broadband that was almost three times the speed of Virgin Media’s 1000Mbps versus 360Mbps.   Complaint Upheld in Part. 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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