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Scope & Application

The primary objective of the Code is to regulate commercial marketing communications in the interest of consumers ensuring, so far as possible, that all marketing communications are prepared with a sense of responsibility both to the consumer and to society.

The Code applies to:

(a) Marketing communications in newspapers, magazines and other printed publications, including free distribution newspapers and magazines.

(b) Marketing communications in posters and other promotional media in public places, including moving images and digital screens.

(c) Marketing communications in brochures, leaflets, circulars, mailings, fax transmissions, emails and text transmissions.

(d) Marketing communications broadcast on television or radio or screened in cinemas or with video, DVD or Blu-ray.

(e) Marketing communications carried on any digital and electronic storage materials, media and/or computer systems including, but not limited to, online advertisements in paid-for space (including banner or pop up advertisements and online video advertisements); paid-for search listings; preferential listings on price comparison sites; viral advertisements; in-game advertisements; commercial classified advertisements; advergames that feature in-display advertisements; advertisements transmitted by Bluetooth; advertisements distributed through web widgets and online sales promotions and prize promotions.

(f) Promotional marketing and sales promotions.

(g) Advertorials.

(h) Marketing communications in non-paid-for space online, under the control of the advertiser or their agent, including but not limited to advertisers’ own websites, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, facilities, opportunities, prizes and gifts or which consist of direct solicitations for donations.

The Code does not apply to:

(a) Statutory, public, Garda and other official notices.

(b) Material published as a matter of record only.

(c) Flyposting.

(d) Packages, wrappers, labels, tickets, timetables and menus, unless they advertise another product or a sales promotion or are recognisable in a marketing communication.

(e) Point-of-sale displays, except those covered by the promotional marketing rules (Section 5) or when part of a wider advertising campaign.

(f) Marketing communications whose principal purpose is to express the advertiser’s position on a political, religious, industrial relations, social or aesthetic matter or on an issue of public interest or concern.

(g) Classified private advertisements, including those online.

(h) Press releases and other public relations material.

(i) The content of books and editorial material in media.

(j) Oral communications, including telephone calls.

(k) Works of art.

(l) Specialised marketing communications addressed to the medical, veterinary and allied professions.

(m) The content of premium rate services (which is regulated by ComReg) as opposed to marketing communications for premium rate services, which the Code does apply to.

(n) Marketing communications in foreign media. Direct marketing communications that originate outside Ireland and sales promotions and marketing communications on non-Irish websites, if targeted at Irish consumers, are subject to the jurisdiction of the relevant authority in the country from which they originate if that authority operates a cross border complaint system. If it does not, the ASAI will take what
action it can. Most members of the European Union, and many non- European countries, have a self-regulatory organisation that is a member of the EASA. The EASA co-ordinates the cross-border complaints system for its members (which includes the ASAI).

(o) Sponsorship (marketing communications that refer to a sponsorship are covered by the Code).

(p) Investor relations and corporate material.

(q) Website content not covered by 2.2(e) and 2.2(h), including but not limited to editorial content, news or public relations material, corporate reports and natural listings on a search engine or a price-comparison site.

(r) Heritage advertising, where that advertising is not part of the advertiser’s current promotional strategy and is published in an appropriate context. In the event that an advertisement or marketing communication is the subject of a recent Complaints Committee adjudication, then Section 3.9 of the Code may be invoked to bring such heritage advertising or marketing communications within remit.

The Code is applied in accordance with the following criteria:

(a) An invitation from the ASAI to comment on a complaint does not mean that the ASAI accepts the complainant’s view. Each case is considered on its merits.

(b) The Code rules are indivisible; advertisers should comply, where appropriate, with all rules.

(c) Compliance with the Code is assessed in the light of a marketing communication’s probable effect when taken as a whole and in context.

Particular attention is paid to:

  • the characteristics of the likely audience
  • the media by means of which the marketing communication is communicated
  • the location and context of the marketing communication
  • the nature of the advertised product and the nature, content and form of any associated material made available or action recommended to consumers.

(d) The Code is primarily concerned with the content of advertisements, promotions and direct marketing communications and not with terms of business or products themselves. Some rules, however, go beyond the content, for example, those that cover the administration of sales promotions, the suitability of promotional items and the delivery of products ordered through an advertisement.

(e) The Code does not deal with contractual relationships between advertisers and consumers. It does not presume to judge whether a product represents value for money nor does it seek to regulate terms of business.

(f) The ASAI does not act as an arbitrator between conflicting ideologies.

(g) No legal advice can be given or should be presumed in communications from the ASAI.

(h) The judgement of the ASAI on any matter of interpretation of the Code is final.

Procedures for the implementation of the Code are set out in Appendix I.