Harrington’s eye surgery TV ad falls foul of watchdog

A TELEVISION advert featuring golfer Pádraig Harrington has fallen foul of the broadcasting watchdog, which ruled that it cannot be shown on TV.

The ad for Optical Express featured the two-time British Open winner who stated: “Visit Optical Express, Europe’s number one provider of laser eye surgery. It could help your game too.”

The complainant, Ed Toland, contacted the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), claiming they suggested “that they played a part in Mr Harrington achieving his career highlights. This is a testimonial rather than an endorsement”. He also claimed this was a falsehood.

He said the advertiser, Harper Macleod LLP, claimed Pádraig Harrington’s golf fame had been helped by laser eye surgery and that they were asserting that others could obtain the same benefit from the same procedure. The station on which the advert was screened, TV3, said its interpretation is that he was merely saying that if one wanted laser eye surgery that they could visit Optical Express and also that it helped his golf game.

The advert was screened on July 14 on TV3 and on RTÉ on July 19 – the subject of a separate complaint by Mr Toland, which was also upheld by the BAI.

The BAI said the General Commercial Communications Code prohibits health professionals or persons with celebrity status from endorsing medical procedures and products in a commercial communication.

The BAI partly upheld a complaint by Ryanair that the RTÉ travel show No Frontiers had promoted Aer Lingus flights on a segment about London in a programme screened on February 28 last, while neglecting to mention Ryanair’s London services.

The BAI also rejected three other complaints: one from Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Press Office against RTÉ’s Prime Time over the role of religious in the running of schools; a complaint by Connolly Footwear against a segment on TV3’s Morning Show over a strike action; and a complaint against phone provider Sassio linked to an advertisement offering free credit.

- www.bai.ie

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