Ireland’s advertising watchdog has received several complaints about unsubstantiated or misleading Covid-19 claims about products and services.
Claims that undermine public health advice or exploit people’s anxieties must be avoided, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) insists.
While the number of complaints is “not significant” the ASAI is reminding all advertisers to act responsibly.
The authority’s chief executive, Orla Twomey, said that, in these unprecedented times, no advertisement should be irresponsible or exploit consumer fears.
“Advertisers are therefore advised to think twice before making any claims about how to prevent or cure Covid-19 unless the claims can be supported by robust evidence,” she said.
“The ASAI aims to lead the way in ensuring all marketing communications are legal, decent, honest and truthful.”
The authority’s code of standards applies to all commercial marketing communications.
The code says that marketing communications should not mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission, or otherwise.
The advertiser must be in a position to substantiate all claims, expressed or implied, that the advertisement conveys to consumers.
Claims about health and beauty products and treatments should be backed up by substantiation. Where relevant, the results of robust and reputable trials on human subjects should be included.
Members of the ASAI are required to abide by the code and not publish an advertisement or conduct a promotion that contravenes code rules.
The authority, which is financed by the advertising industry, can uphold a breach of the code that may be published in the general media.
The code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital.