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  • Advertising regulator backs Radio Nova’s “Addicted to Sex on Fire” posters

    August 31, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | by Laura Slattery

    Sex sells is one of the oldest axioms in the book, but should Radio Nova’s “Addicted to Sex on Fire” posters have been placed on billboards located near primary schools? No, says the principal of one Dublin primary school, who along with two other individuals complained to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland about the ad.

    The poster, which references Kings of Leon’s ubiquitous hit Sex on Fire, was placed on the sides of busses and 48-sheet billboards around Dublin this summer.

    Pinpointing the cheeky comic device of the campaign, one of the complainants observed that the words “on fire” appear in a smaller font than “addicted to sex”, arguing that therefore the content of the ad was unsuitable when placed on a billboard located in “close proximity” to a primary school.

    The ASAI has rejected the complaints. “The Committee did not consider the content of the advertising was likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm to children, nor was the content likely to frighten or disturb them,” it has adjudicated.

    The advertising body also accepted the response of Radio Nova, which said the song, one of the most played tracks on its playlist, was well-known, “mainstream” in fact, having spent a long 42 weeks in the UK chart. (I’ve yet to meet anyone who knows any of the lyrics apart from the “sex on fire” bit.) To the best of their knowledge, the bearded rockers’ crossover hit had never been banned or restricted in any way. “This would suggest that both the authorities and general public felt that the track was acceptable,” it told the ASAI.

    “We pointed out that Sex on Fire had been a very well-known song and that it had been number one in 17 countries,” says Kevin Branigan, Radio Nova’s chief executive. “We hadn’t expected any complaints.”

     Three other ads in the campaign, designed to showcase the classic rock station’s “seriously addictive” slogan, read “Mark, 27. Addicted to Money by Pink Floyd”, “Ciara, 35. Addicted to Whiskey in the Jar”, and Brian, 41. Addicted to Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones”. The ads, which feature “real” Radio Nova listeners, ran in equal rotation and could be seen with equal frequency throughout the city.

    Promising to liaise with its outdoor advertising agency regarding future campaign placements, Radio Nova stressed that it did not choose the particular poster site and were not trying to target schoolchildren. The station, which is celebrating its two-year anniversary, is squarely aimed at 25-44-year-olds – people who are old enough to remember the, gasp, 1990s, or maybe even a time before sex addiction was a thing.

  • Who’s got a complaint about the banks?

    November 23, 2010 @ 12:01 pm | by Laura Slattery

    With every Irish citizen and half the euro zone suffering as a result of the activities of cash-devouring, nest-feathering bankers, it might be a more sensible question to ask who hasn’t got a complaint about the banks? This morning saw the release of the latest update from the Financial Services Ombudsman, Bill Prasifka, which reveals that disputes with financial institutions remain close to record levels. Some 3,631 complaints were received in the first six months of 2010, with a third of them originating from the big bad banks as opposed to insurance, investment or pension companies.

    Of course, taxpayers pretty much own the entire banking sector now. Are they being any nicer to us? Not according to Prasifka, who notes that his office, now operating on a lower budget, ordered almost €1.3 million in compensation to be paid to customers during the period. “This is an indication that some financial institutions are not making sufficient effort to resolve complaints at an earlier stage,” he said.

    So that’s €1.3 million recouped as a result of financial sector gall and misdemeanour. A shame that getting the rest of the billions back is going to prove a bit trickier.

    But let’s look at one of the more delightful practices that the banks inflicted upon their struggling customers. The ombudsman said today he has 40 cases on his books of mortgage borrowers who were persuaded and/or forced to abandon their favourable tracker mortgages in favour of fixed- or variable-rate loans. Such a manoeuvre had the effect of lessening (by a fraction) the margin-draining effect of trackers on the banks – given the dismal state of their margins today, it was/is a generally futile exercise. But such policies have had a much more profound effect on those who were convinced to switch, as it typically costs them hundreds of euro a month in higher interest payments.

    The ombudsman’s office is now wrestling with the idea of whether such decisions were “informed choices” on the part of consumers (some of whom may have reckoned they could save money in the short term by fixing). It’s pretty clear, however, that it was a swindle. Consumers could not have been “informed”, as the lenders were, that tracker mortgages would be withdrawn, leaving them locked into endless rounds of interest rate hikes while tracker customers continue to enjoy historically low European Central Bank (ECB) rates.

    Since then, the Financial Regulator has continued to warn – as late as last August - that lenders were convincing borrowers to “remortgage” onto far pricier loans. It cited “poor levels of disclosure”, which is still about as close a euphemism to “lies” that consumers can expect from their watchdogs.

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