More than 1,800 complaints to advertising watchdog

More than 1,800 complaints about 1,360 ads were sent to the country's advertising watchdog in 2019.
More than 1,800 complaints to advertising watchdog

More than 1,800 complaints about 1,360 ads were sent to the country's advertising watchdog in 2019.

Almost two-thirds of the complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland were made on the basis of an advertisement being misleading, with a further 7% were made on the basis of an ad being offensive.

A wide range of other issues were also highlighted in the complaints, including concerns about alcohol advertising and ads targeted at children, as well as those for food and non-alcoholic beverages, gambling and e-cigarettes. There were also concerns about environmental claims, distance selling and employment advertising.

Some 105 ads were found to be in breach of the advertising standards code, according to the 2019 ASAI annual report, which noted that 1,858 written complaints concerning 1,360 advertisements were received last year, a 10% increase on the number of complaints received in 2018.

Health and beauty adverts were the subject of the most complaints, with 229 registered in this area. There were also a large number in the leisure sector (172), non-commercial (170), travel/holidays (169), motoring (161), telecommunications (137) and food and beverage (137). Ads for financial services, clothing/footwear and household goods were all the subject of a large number of complaints by customers too, while more than 200 were classed as miscellaneous.

An increasing number of complaints are being registered in relation to ads on digital media. In 2010, just 22% of all complaints related to ads on digital platforms. Last year, there were 976, some 48% of the total.

In comparison, complaints relating to broadcast media (TV and radio combined) totalled 552, while outdoor media attracted 226 complaints.

ASAI chairman Sean O’Meara identified issues with digital platforms who are "not fully engaged with the advertising self-regulatory system" to the same extent as traditional media platforms.

"The ASAI is continuing to work with the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) to ensure that the digital platforms engage significantly with the advertising self-regulatory national systems, both from a compliance point of view as well as from a funding point of view," he said.

"As the advertising ecosystem continues to evolve, it is imperative that the ASAI’s aim of providing consumer protection is properly funded."

He urged digital organisations to engage both from a compliance and funding point of view so as to protect consumers.

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