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Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland – more useless regulation

For anyone who’s not familiar with their work, the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) is somewhere you can go if you have a complaint about paid advertising in the media. I

I was talking to a few people about some ASAI recent decisions in the past few days, and the “punchline” of this article was something that not many of these people were aware of. I’m going to come back to the ASAI in the coming days, but here’s some information you should know about why the ASAI is yet another useless Irish regulator – though in this case not one devised by our Government.

The ASAI are what are termed “self-regulators“. It’s advertising people overseeing complaints about advertising. When it comes to the legal or medical profession there’s always loud calls to end the practice of self-regulation – advertising isn’t as critical, but self-regulation is still just as pointless when it comes to true consumer protection.

The ASAI will entertain complaints from the public regarding advertising in most media – newspapers and magazines, outdoor posters, radio and television advertising, and other types of paid promotional advertising materials. However, as the ASAI is a voluntary code, any decisions or recommendations made by the ASAI about advertising complaints actually mean nothing, aren’t binding, and can be ignored without any sanction.

If you have a complaint about radio or tv advertising, the place you should go is the Broadcasting Complaints Commission instead of the ASAI. The BCC oversee advertising rules under the “General Advertising Code” instituted by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. I’m not saying either of these Government quangos (why do we need two in this area?) are much better – I’ve no experience of either – but they should at least provide complete independence.

With regards to the remaining advertising mediums, the key item to be aware of is that the ASAI claims only claims oversight where the advertising is paid for by an advertiser to a third party. For this reason, the ASAI claims no oversight over internet websites (rightly of course).

However, I don’t think that such an intricacy is well known – there’s no point in complaining to the ASAI about any claims made on a company website.

This essentially means that any company can say anything that they like about their products or services on their websites with out any fear of comeback from anyone. They’re not obliged to be truthful or accurate in any way, as long as it’s only said on their websites.

Just something to be aware of when you’re searching for information on the internet.

3 comments On Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland – more useless regulation

  • Try making a complaint to ASAI about one of the mega advertisers (large breakfast cereal companies, large soap powder companies, mobile phone companies) and see how far you get. Self-regulation doesn’t really work – you are better off complaining to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission at http://www.bcc.ie

  • It is not true ASAI cannot investigate a complaint about a business website. They can

  • Hi Perry,
    I didn’t say that the ASAI cannot investigate claims on a business website. They can, and they do, but there’s no point in them doing so, because they have no power to enforce any of their findings.

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