Several firms reprimanded by watchdog over misleading ads

SEVERAL leading companies including Ryanair, Brittany Ferries, UPC and the VHI have been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland over misleading advertising.

Ryanair was criticised for an advertising poster in the departures area at Shannon Airport promoting a number of the airline’s routes from Shannon to Berlin, Turin, Milan, Venice and Katowice. However, a customer complained that the airline had discontinued serving those routes at the time.

Ryanair, in common with past complaints made against it, failed to respond to requests by the ASAI for comment.

Brittany Ferries was criticised following a complaint by rival firm Irish Ferries for a radio ad in which it claimed customers could travel on its “luxurious” ship for the same price as an ordinary ferry.

Irish Ferries said the use of references to same fares and ordinary ferry companies was objectionable as Brittany Ferries was more expensive on its Ireland-France route.

The ASAI upheld the complaint as Brittany Ferries was unable to substantiate its claims on pricing. The company has been instructed not to use the ad in its current format again.

The ASAI also partially upheld a complaint by Sky against a range of ads by UPC to promote its TV, broadband and phone package. It found that UPC had failed to identify the source of prices of rival companies used for cost comparison purposes.

UPC also had a separate complaint upheld against it following a submission by rival provider, BskyB, that UPC’s promotion of the savings to be achieved by switching to its HD service.

The ASAI said that UPC has made an unfair comparison about the different services provided by the two companies and told the company to exercise greater care in future comparative advertising.

The VHI was criticised for one of its radio ads which claimed one of the company’s insurance plans was “the most trusted family healthcare plan” and “cheaper” following a complaint by Hibernian Aviva Health.

The ASAI said VHI research failed to substantiate the claims on which the company said they were based.

Overall, the ASAI found that 22 out of 25 cases referred to its complaints committee were in breach of the ASAI’s code of practice.

The ASAI noted that 11 of the complaints were made by other businesses rather than consumers which it described as “unusually high”.

The ASAI reminded advertisers and advertising agencies that it provided a copy advice service which could prevent firms placing ads which were misleading; making claims which cannot be substantiated; and making invalid comparisons with rival products and services.

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