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ASAI’s 2015 Annual report shows that 62% of advertisements in breach of ASAI Code related to misleading advertising claims

1,221 complaints were made to The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) in 2015 and 72 advertisements were found to be in breach of ASAI Code

ASAI’s 2015 Annual report shows that 62% of advertisements in breach of  ASAI Code related to misleading advertising claims

April 2016


A total of 1,221 written complaints relating to 924 advertisements were submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) last year, according to the organisation’s 2015 Annual Report which was released today.

The ASAI, which is the independent self-regulatory body committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications, found that 72 of these advertisements were in breach of the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications.

The objective of the ASAI Code is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’ and members of the ASAI are required to abide by the Code and not to publish an advertisement or conduct a promotion which contravenes Code rules. The ASAI Code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital (online banners, websites and social platforms), print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets/brochures, and direct marketing.

The Annual Report outlines that 62% percent of the complaints made in 2015 were on the basis that an advertisement was misleading, while 24% of complaints 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 and slimming claims.

Complaints by sector are as follows, with comparative figures for 2014 and 2013:

Sector                                                 2015    2014    2013

Telecommunications                          240      182      142

Leisure                                                 150      275      111

Household                                           101      143      88

Miscellaneous                                     98        94        72

Health & Beauty                                  80        93        127

Travel / Holidays                                  77        90        105

Food & Beverages                               72        127      82

Motoring                                              66        72        86

Financial                                             55        81        60

Alcohol                                                 34        57        47


Complaints by Media

In 2015, digital media gave rise to the largest block of complaints, with 449 complaints registered. While this is a significant decrease from the 606 complaints made about digital media in 2014, the ASAI notes that as a proportion of all complaints, digital media has been increasing steadily year on year. In 2010, it represented 22 per cent of all complaints, compared to 38 per cent in 2015. Complaints relating to broadcast media (TV and radio combined) totalled 356, while outdoor media attracted 169 complaints.

Complaints by Media are as follows, with comparative figures for 2014 and 2013:

Media                                                  2015                2014                2013

Digital Media                                       449                  606                  575

Broadcast                                            356                  450                  353

Outdoor                                               169                  126                  165

Print                                                     87                    124                  114

Brochures/Leaflets                               45                    57                    61

Direct Marketing                                  8                      21                    20

Cinema                                                    5                      8                      2

Other                                                   78                    79                    66


Total:                                                   1197                1471                1356


Broadcast                                           356                  450                  353

Radio                                                   118                  150                  124

Television                                            238                  300                  229


The ASAI conducts ongoing monitoring of advertising across all media and since 2007, has examined over 27,000 advertisements, with an overall compliance rate of 98 per cent. The organisation, which is financed by the advertising industry, also offers free confidential and non-binding copy advice on the compliance of proposed advertising.

The 2015 ASAI Annual Report also outlines the fact that a new edition of the ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications was launched in 2015 and came into effect on 1 March 2016. The updated Code features new sections on E-Cigarettes and Gambling and revised sections on Food (including rules for advertisements addressed to children), Health & Beauty and Environmental claims

Orla Twomey, CEO of the ASAI, speaking at the launch of the 2015 ASAI Annual Report, said:

“The ASAI is committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland and our 2015 Annual Report echoes this statement, conveying the shear breath of advertisements adjudicated on by the ASAI’s independent Complaints Committee. A 98% compliance rate shows that advertisers in Ireland are completely on board with the ASAI in our bid to protect consumers and ensure the highest the standards of advertising and marketing communications”


Sean O’Meara, Chairman of the ASAI, says:

“We launched the 7th Edition of the ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland in 2015 and this generated a significant, and welcomed, rise in the awareness levels of the important work conducted by the ASAI. The ASAI is strong, active and progressive and our internal structures and services are, rightfully, in constant change, always developing our remit to mirror the modern requirements of our stakeholders and the public. Self-regulation is not a standing concept. With the help of, and our involvement with, the European Advertising Standards Alliance and other international Self Regulatory Organisations, we challenge ourselves to operate to the highest international standards of effectiveness and relevance.”


The ASAI accepts complaints from any person or body who considers that a marketing communication may be in breach of the ASAI Code.  

Check out www.asai for more details and to also access a copy of the 2015 ASAI Annual Report

To keep up to date on ASAI activity, follow the organisation on Twitter @ THE_ASAI

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