Monday 20 February 2017

AdLib: Students to be targeted by ASAI

Michael Cullen

Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30

Keith Malone’s photograph
Keith Malone’s photograph

Third-level marketing students will be targeted by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland next year in an effort to spread the word on why advertisers need to keep up to speed with industry regulations. Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) ceo Orla Twomey said young people entering adland don't have to be experts on the advertising code - but they should be aware of what's acceptable and what's not.

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While the digital mediascape makes it easier for people to complain about ads, they still must have a valid reason to call the ASAI into action. Now 35 years on the go, the ASAI last year handled 148 complaints, 72 ads of which found to have breached the code.

More recent days have seen some high-profile ads pulled, including Budweiser's 'Big Dreams' TV ad with UFC world lightweight champion Conor McGregor. The ruling followed complaints about the world renowned St Louis beer hiring 'The Notorious' - one of Ireland's top sports stars and someone regarded as an icon by impressionable youngsters.

Press ads for a 1916 Rising exhibition in the old Ambassador cinema in Dublin were also upheld. People complained because they claimed they weren't told that the exhibition was organised by Sinn Fein and that the party could benefit from any profits made. One person said it was only after he bought the commemorative programme he realised Sinn Fein's involvement.

The complainants said they were surprised to find a section on the 1980 H-Block hunger strikers as they weren't mentioned in the ads. It was wrong and misleading to link them with those who fought in 1916.

Twomey, who started out with the ASAI as an office executive 26 years ago, and was most recently assistant ceo, says the authority is now more conscious than ever of the need to speedily deal with complaints.

It comes in the face of mounting criticism that offending ads are often allowed to run for a long period, by which time the advertiser has clocked up lots of valuable media mileage from an idea clearly designed to stoke controversy. Twomey points out that previous serial culprits, such as Ryanair and Paddy Power, have become more compliant.

Ryanair ads included one parody of Mary O'Rourke in the bath while Paddy Power ran an ad about the about the outcome of the Oscar Pistorious murder trial. The same can be said for Largo Foods with its Hunky Dorys ads showing a buxom young woman trying to lure rugby fans. The IRFU said the ad falsely implied Hunky Dory was its official sponsor.

Rarely would the ASAI get more than one complaint from an individual. They also deal with intra-industry complaints, where one brand owner reports on a competitor. There have been times where there's been suspicions of an "interested party" pretending to be a consumer, but it's usually obvious as they have too much information - details which only people "in the know" would normally have.

The ASAI, chaired by former Young Advertising (now Havas) agency boss Sean O'Meara, follows procedures of normal justice. For funding, it relies on a 0.2pc levy on media spend paid quarterly. In a bid to head off complaints, it provides copy advice to advertisers. They also urge commercially-motivated bloggers to be fully transparent.

* A photo of dolphins taken off the coast of Youghal, Co Cork, by John Burke has won the Top Oil 2017 calendar amateur photography competition. Burke's photo will be the calendar's cover image and earns him the Tipperary man a cheque for €1,000. Keith Malone was announced as the online people's choice winner for his winter scene image taken in Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

Over 40,000 calendars will be distributed across the oil company's depots and forecourts nationwide, with all of the images taken by amateur photographers.

Now 10 years on the go, this year's theme was "Ireland Alive". Over 1,000 people from across the island entered the competition.

* Aileen Donoghue is taking on the job of head of brand marketing and communications at FBD, after a short stint at Virgin Media. She held various marketing roles at Heineken Ireland during her 12 years there and also worked for eight years at Mars Ireland. She has a masters degree in international business from the UCD Smurfit Business School and a BComm from UCD. FBD recently appointed Y&R to handle its advertising.

* There should be some craic in the Shelbourne hotel next Friday when Deirdre O'Kane entertains guests at the Marketing Society Christmas lunch. But before the 'Moone Boy' mum takes to the stage, there's the small matter of handing over the gongs in the eight annual research awards.

O'Kane is the first comedienne the society has signed up for its festive gig. She joins a list which includes Dara O'Briain, Mario Rosenstock, Neil Delamere and Barry Murphy's alter ego, German bondholder Gunther Grun.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie; cullen@marketing.ie

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