A group reportedly representing some 400 firefighters has queried why the advertising watchdog upheld its complaint about an ad for Eircode, only to declare later that it did not have the power to ban the broadcast.

Yesterday, the Irish Examiner revealed that the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) had written a draft ruling in which it suggested ads promoting Eircode should not be broadcast, and found the adverts breached four aspects under the ‘misleading’ section of its code.

However, despite circulating its draft ruling among some of the complainants, the ASAI advised that, as the advert was classified as a ‘public service broadcast’, it fell outside the ASAI remit.

However, the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA), which had made a submission against the advert, yesterday called on the ASAI to clarify what happened in relation to the handling of its complaint.

The association said it was compelled to complain based on its concern the advert “was not an honest and truthful advertisement, was very misleading and was, in fact, a dangerous statement to make”.

“IFESA was concerned when this advert was broadcast that the advertiser’s intention had been to heighten the fears of the public that by not knowing your Eircode prefix it would mean a slower response from the emergency services,” said IFESA national chairman Ros MacCobb.

“This advertisement put in the public domain a fear that was unfounded and we believed the use of the emergency services as an example in an advertisement was playing on a fear of the public that when they are most in need of emergency help that the use of Eircode prefix will result in a quicker response.

“It was IFESA position that no substantiating data exists to back Eircode’s claim.”

Mr MacCobb has called on the ASAI to review its decision regarding the complaint.

Concerns over lack of sanction for Eircode ad

“The initial ASAI findings on the IFESA complaint make very serious criticisms of this Eircode advertising campaign and in particular the accuracy of the claims made by the advert,” he said.

“IFESA fails to understand how a promotional advertisement for Eircode, which has a considerable commercial element to it, can be deemed to be a ‘public notice’ and believe the ASAI decision should be reviewed.

“We believe Eircode and the Department of Communications have serious questions to answer regarding the broadcast of this advertisement, particularly when it was being presented as a public awareness and information campaign.”

Mr MacCobb said IFESA and other emergency personnel unions have raised a number of concerns regarding the cost, accuracy, and effectiveness of Eircode from the point of the emergency services.


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