Newstalk ad leaves ASAI on horns of a dilemma

Complaints against a “vulgar” poster campaign by Newstalk has been upheld by the advertising standards watchdog.

The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) referred to an outdoor poster campaign carried by the station which featured a background picture of a radio speaker and the caption: “Take the bullshitters by the horns.”

The advert encouraged listeners to “move the dial” and listen to its breakfast show hosted by Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue. The complaints to the ASAI considered that the language used in the advertising was “coarse, vulgar, and offensive”.

Some complainants also considered such language “inappropriate for use in outdoor posters in public areas where children may see them”. One complainant considered that the use of this type of language may create a bad impression to those holidaying in Ireland.

Newstalk defended the poster campaign, stating that it was developed to communicate its ‘Don’t hold back’ proposition and that the messaged reaffirmed the philosophy of their radio station and was not intended to offend.

“They said their campaign had not encouraged the use of bad language, they had used a play on words to get across the message that they were determined to get to the bottom of important news stories and be truthful to their listeners,” said the ASAI.

Newstalk said the target audience for the advertising was adults in the 25-55 age group and that it had never intended to present Ireland in a bad light to tourists or visitors to the country.

They said they would continue to develop provocative advertising that would interest and challenge the viewer, while also maintaining the standards of the appropriate advertising codes.

However, the ASAI upheld the complaint and said advertising must not be used in its current form again.

It also asked Newstalk to take the concerns of the complainants on board when creating future marketing communications.


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