Complaints upheld against 'distressing' cancer campaign

Lidl, Meteor, Eir and Trinity College also fell foul of Ireland's advertising rules

Complaints upheld against 'distressing' cancer campaign

Rolling News

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has upheld complaints against sixteen advertising campaigns, including parts of the Irish Cancer Society's controversial 'I want to get cancer,' campaign.

92 individuals contacted the State body to complain about the advertisements, the report notes that, "the common theme running through the complaints was that the wording used 'I want to get cancer' was offensive, insensitive, disrespectful and upsetting to cancer survivors, current sufferers, bereaved families and those who may currently be undergoing tests or waiting on the results of same."

The line was used as a tease, which was followed reveals such as "I WANT TO GET CANCER - before it gets you," and, "I WANT TO GET CANCER - so my friends never do."

The report notes that the organisation is using a 'play on words' - but adds that not all elements of the campaign communicated its message without causing "distress to consumers."

The Irish Cancer Society has defended the campaign, last month Gráinne O’Rourke, head of communications for the ICS said the campaign has to be provocative in order to save lives: "Some people have been startled and upset ... But hearing your doctor say the words ‘you have cancer’ is far more upsetting."

"For too long we have spoken about cancer in hushed tones and with a sense of fear and avoidance. Some people even think that cancer is inevitable. We want to change that," she said.

A complaint against a Lidl frozen fish product which was labelled as 'fresh' was also upheld.

Two other complaints against the German company, one relating to a crab product and another for a 'healthy' breakfast recipe for 'Eggy bread' - which was not backed up by nutritional information - were also found to be valid.

Lidl conceded that the description of the breakfast, "could indeed be regarded as somewhat far-reaching," according to the filing.

The ASAI upheld two complaints against Eir relating to broadband products, and one against Meteor.

A complaint against a sponsored Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard magazine feature was also upheld.

Trinity College was also found to have misled a student regarding the cost of a college course.

You can view the full list and a case-by-case breakdown here.

Commenting on the latest ASAI rulings, Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, stated: "The first ASAI complaints bulletin for 2017 highlights the ASAI’s broad remit in relation to the number of advertising platforms covered. Social media, print, SMS, online and more, all featured advertisements which have been found in breach of the ASAI Code.

"Given the rise in the number of complaints within some sectors, the ASAI has also begun actively engaging with advertisers to promote improved engagement and compliance with the ASAI Code. The ASAI have done this in the past to address emerging trends across various sectors."