Decision to uphold complaints on tampon ad may be reviewed

Decision to uphold complaints on tampon ad may be reviewed

A screenshot of Tampax's 'Tampons and Tea' advert.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has signalled its decision to uphold complaints from members of the public about a TV ad for tampons could be reviewed.

The advertising watchdog has also revealed the number of complaints it received about the advert for Tampax products was almost double the original number stated.

The “Tampons and Tea” ad, which featured a light-hearted discussion in a TV studio setting on how to use the product, was banned by the ASAI after it ruled that the commercial had caused widespread offence based on the relatively high number of complaints made about it.

The ASAI did not uphold the complaints on grounds that the ad for the Procter and Gamble brand was either demeaning to women, contained sexual innuendo or was unsuitable for children.

The ASAI stated at the weekend that parties to the complaints made initially about the ad can seek a review of its complaints committee’s findings.

The decision follows the posting by the ASAI of a message on its website on Friday, which was subsequently removed, that there was no mechanism to have any of its decisions appealed.

Under the ASAI code, parties have 21 days to seek a review of a decision with advertisers required to pay a fee of €5,000. The fee for a complainant is €30.

A review panel can decide to refer the issue back to the ASAI’s complaints committee for reconsideration.

The ASAI also removed a request asking the public not to contact the ASAI about the Tampax advertisement.

Instead, the authority said it would now “fully review” all e-mail comments received after the adjudication had been published.

The ASAI said it had upheld the complaint that it had caused general offence because of the volume of complaints it had received which the ASAI said was “indicative of consumer sentiment”.

A total of 84 complaints about the Tampax ad were received at the time it asked Procter and Gamble to respond to the concerns raised.

However, the authority said it continued to receive a high volume of correspondence about the ad and the number of complaints eventually totalled 150.

“It was clear to the ASAI executive from reading the complaints that there was a diverse range of demographics covering gender, age, and family circumstances,” the ASAI said.

It noted that 83% of complaints about the ad came from women.

The authority said such a level of complaints was “significantly higher to those normally received”. Only seven advertisements have been the subject of 60 complaints or more since January 2016, according to the ASAI.

It said it had received almost 8,000 complaints in relation to over 5,200 advertisements in that period, with 88% of all advertisements only the subject of a single complaint.

The ASAI said advertisements that had been found to be in breach of its code could be published again if amendments allowed them to become compliant.

Update 22:10:

In a statement tonight the ASAI said: 

“The ASAI Code sets out the process for a Review of a Decision, which can be requested by either the advertisers involved or the complaints in the case. 

"All parties to a case are advised of the review process when they are sent the final adjudication of the Complaints Committee. No request has been received to date.

"The ASAI updated its statement to provide further clarity on becoming aware of further questions about its decision.”

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