Irish News

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Only 65 adverts breached code out of 1,300 complaints to watchdog

Nicola Anderson

Published 17/04/2014 | 02:30

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Pictured: Mr Sean O'Meara...Pictured: Mr Sean O'Meara
Sean O'Meara

More than 1,300 complaints were made to the advertising watchdog last year but only 65 were found to be in breach of the industry code.

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The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland said the number of complaints was "very small" in proportion to the thousands of advertisements published last year.

Misleading advertisements were the main reason for campaigns to be found in breach of the code – 68pc of the complaints made were on the basis that an advertisement was misleading.

Meanwhile, almost 20pc of complaints were on the grounds that an advertisement was offensive.

Other complaints centred around concerns about alcohol selling, children, distance selling, employment and business opportunities, environmental claims, financial services and food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The report shows that the number of complaints made about the leisure sector saw the biggest change, plummeting from 842 complaints in 2012 to just 111 in 2013.

Several complaints were received about an internet ad from Bite A Bargain for a "Secret Santa Mystery Gift" which claimed purchasers would receive gifts with a maximum value of €315 and a minimum of €185, for just €39.

However, when they received the product, some complainants objected because they did not receive their orders in time for Christmas.

All the complaints said the retail value of the contents of the mystery box did not match the value suggested by the advertisers, with some saying the contents were worth less than €50. The complaint was upheld by the ASAI.

The ASAI also upheld a complaint against Ballymaloe House/The Grain Store, which had advertised a deal for early dinner and a show plus B&B for €150 per person sharing.

The complainant booked the all-inclusive package for her parents at a cost of €300 but was disappointed to learn that the dinner consisted of a cold buffet and did not consider this to be 'dinner'.

Ballymaloe defended themselves on the grounds that they had been serving a buffet dinner "for almost 50 years" and this meal "had always been described as dinner".

The complaint was upheld, with the complaints committee considering that the word 'dinner' was likely to mislead, saying if an element of the 'dinner' consisted of a buffet-style serving, it should be made clear in the advertising.

The chairperson of the ASAI said that many advertising firms were failing to do their part to fund the self-regulation of the industry.

Advertisers are supposed to pay 0.2pc of their advertising and communication 'spend' in order to fund the ASAI. However in his first report as chairperson, Sean O'Meara told how it had been "difficult" to secure all rightful payments of the "quite small levy".

Irish Independent

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