The new Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing in Ireland (7th edition) published by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (“ASAI”) comes into effect today, 1 March 2016.

The ASAI is an independent self-regulatory body set up and financed by the advertising industry and committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications. The Code is applicable to commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland, including digital (online banners, websites and social platforms), print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets / brochures and direct marketing. A marketing communication which is found by the ASAI to have contravened the rules of the Code must be withdrawn or amended and a case report is published by the ASAI, which includes the names of advertisers, promoters and agencies involved.

The new Code is the result of a comprehensive review undertaken by the ASAI which involved a significant public consultation process with a wide range of Government departments and agencies; consultations with consumer groups and other NGOs; and consultation with the advertising industry including advertisers, agencies and the media.

The proposed changes will impact a broad range of sectors. We have summarised some of the key changes implemented by the Code.

  • New rules relating to Children’s Advertising

There are new rules relating to advertising to children and the use of licensed characters and celebrities to promote products to children. New rules include; “Except those for fresh fruit or fresh vegetables, marketing communications should not seem to encourage children to eat or drink a product only to take advantage of a promotional offer: the product should be offered on its merits, with the offer as an added incentive.”

  • New rules relating to Food Advertising

There is a new sub-section to deal food advertising, which brings the ASAI Code into line with the EU Regulation concerning nutritional and health claims. The EU Regulation on nutrition and health claims seeks to protect consumers from misleading or false claims regarding the nutritional value or composition of foods.

  • New rules relating to Health & Beauty advertising

The rules in this section have been updated to take into account recent updates in European legislation in respect of medicinal products. These rules are designed to ensure that marketing communications for medicines, medical devices, treatments, health-related products and beauty products receive the necessary high level of scrutiny. The rules include “Marketing communications for medical services should not cause unwarranted or disproportional anxiety or suggest that any product or treatment is necessary for the maintenance of health.”

  • New rules relating to Environmental claims

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that marketing communications do not exaggerate the environmental benefits to consumers of products or services. They include “Marketing communications should not mislead customers about the environmental benefit that a product offers; for example, by highlighting the absence of an environmentally damaging ingredient if that ingredient is not usually found in competing products or by highlighting an environmental benefit that results from a legal obligation if competing products are subject to that legal obligation.”

  • New section on E- Cigarettes

The Code now includes a section on the advertising of e-cigarettes due to a demand for clarity surrounding the advertising and marketing of such products. The rules include that “marketing communications for e-cigarettes should be socially responsible” and “should contain nothing which promotes the use of a tobacco product or shows the use of a tobacco product in a positive light.”

  • New section on Gambling

There is now a new section on Gambling. While marketing communications for gambling services was within the remit of the former code, given the increased marketing communications in this sector the ASAI has now included specific rules. New rules include that; “All advertisements for gambling services or products shall contain a message to encourage responsible gambling and shall direct people to a source of information about gambling and gambling responsibly.”

Read the Code in full here.