Newstalk rapped over ‘inappropriate’ billboard advert

Some people complained to ASAI that language used was ‘coarse, vulgar and offensive’

Newstalk denied an  advertising campaign had encouraged the use of bad language but had been “a play on words to get across the message that they were determined to get to the bottom of important news stories and be truthful to their listeners”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Newstalk denied an advertising campaign had encouraged the use of bad language but had been “a play on words to get across the message that they were determined to get to the bottom of important news stories and be truthful to their listeners”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Newstalk has been rapped on the knuckles by the Republic’s advertising watchdog over its use of the word “bulls**tters” on an advertising billboard promoting its breakfast show featuring Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue.

The poster featured a background picture of a radio speaker and the tag line “Take the bulls**tters by the horns. MOVE THE DIAL TO IVAN AND CHRIS.”

The ad received multiple complaints, according to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), with some people complaining the language used was “coarse, vulgar and offensive”.

‘Bad impression’

The ASAI said some complainants also considered the word “inappropriate for use in outdoor posters in public areas where children may see them”, while another complainant considered this type of language “may create a bad impression to those holidaying in Ireland”.

In response, Newstalk denied the campaign had encouraged the use of bad language but had been “a play on words to get across the message that they were determined to get to the bottom of important news stories and be truthful to their listeners”, the ASAI said in its monthly bulletin.

Newstalk added its target audience for the campaign was adults in the 25-55 age group who lived in Ireland and stressed it had never intended to misrepresent Ireland in a bad light to tourists.

Complaints upheld

The ASAI’s complaints committee found while the use of the word bulls**t “might be acceptable in a more targeted media”, it was unacceptable for outdoor advertising and the complaints were upheld.

Bookmaker Paddy Power also fell foul of the watchdog for an ad which promised to give gamblers 50 per cent back on their losses over a certain weekend earlier this year, without making clear that limits applied to the offer.

A complainant queried how the advertisers could claim to give “50 per cent back on losses” in the main heading of the ad while stating in the fine print that if customers wagered €6,500 they received €50 back, and likewise if they wagered €1,500 they still received €50 back.

In response to queries from the ASAI,Paddy Power said the promotion offered customers who opted in the opportunity to receive 50 per cent cash back on losses up to a certain value, depending on their customer level.

Minimum wagering

In order to qualify for the promotion, customers had to first opt in and then meet certain minimum wagering requirements, depending on their game of choice.

Interested customers then had to click on the “More Info” tab provided in an email sent to them which would have brought them to the promotions page, where they had the option to view the terms and conditions.

The ASAI’s complaints committee considered the complaint and Paddy Power’s response and noted that while the headline had referred to “Clobbering 50% Cashback” and the body of the offer had referenced “50% Cashback on losses”, neither had referenced the fact that cashback was only available up to a specified amount and that minimum wagering requirements were applicable.

Telecoms companies 3, Vodafone and eircom all were found guilty of misleading ads over the period in question, as was retailer Argos.