A total of 2,101 written complaints relating to 1,066 advertisements were received by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) last year, according to its 2017 Annual Report.
This represents a 58% increase in the number of complaints received in 2016. The number of complaints resolved – 1,802 – represents a 31% increase on the previous year.
The ‘Health and Beauty’ sector attracted the most number of complaints, while ‘Digital Media’ gave rise to the highest number of complaints by media, according to the report.
The ASAI, which is the independent self-regulatory body committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications, found that 75 advertisements were in breach of the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications.
The ASAI Annual Report notes that 61% of the complaints made in 2017 were on the basis that an advertisement was misleading, while 12% were made on the basis that an advertisement was offensive. There were also a wide range of other issues covered by the ASAI Code that were raised by members of the public, including concerns about alcohol advertising, children, employment and business opportunities, financial services, food and non-alcoholic beverages, health and beauty claims.
Complaints related to digital advertising during the year rose to 777, up from 586 a year earlier representing 43% of all complaints during the year. By comparison, complaints relating to broadcast media (TV and radio combined) totalled 567, while outdoor media attracted 138 complaints.
According to Orla Twomey, CEO of the ASAI: “The ASAI is committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland and our 2017 Annual Report echoes this statement, conveying the sheer breadth of advertisements adjudicated on by the ASAI’s independent Complaints Committee.
“Partly in tandem with awareness campaigns of our range of services, the ASAI experienced a 58% surge in complaints since last year, a trend we expect to continue going forward. Despite a large increase in the number of complaints, we’re delighted to see that compliance with the adjudications of the independent Complaints Committee has remained consistent demonstrating that advertisers in Ireland are completely on board with the ASAI in our bid to protect consumers and ensure the highest standards of advertising and marketing communications,” she says.
“The ASAI’s Copy Advice Service also remains an important part of our remit and we would encourage any advertiser who has a concern in relation to their proposed marketing communications in 2018 and beyond, to get in touch and avail of the confidential and free service. 135 copy advice requsts were submitted to the ASAI in 2017 as we continue to work with advertisers, in the interest of consumers, to ensure that all marketing practices in Ireland are legal, decent, honest and truthful. I believe that the ASAI Annual Report for 2017 underpins that commitment.”