The updated Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland (the “Code”) published by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (the “ASAI”) will come into effect on 1 March 2016.

The 7th edition of the Code amends and updates the standards for advertising in Ireland and introduces notable changes to the general advertising rules as well as to industry specific requirements.

The updates to the General Rules of the Code include the following:

  • Advertisers cannot disclaim responsibility for advertising created by agents or third parties on their behalf, whether directly or indirectly.
  • Clarification that the ASAI will adjudicate any complaints on the basis of the likely effect on consumers, rather than on the basis of the advertiser’s intention.
  • A requirement for advertisements to be clearly identified and distinguished from editorial matter and a prohibition on the presentation of marketing communications as user generated content, private blogs or independent reviews.

The Code also introduces industry specific requirements, which include new rules on the following:

  • Marketing of e-cigarettes
  • Advertising for gambling services and products
  • Distance Selling
  • Food advertising
  • Children’s advertising
  • Medicines, medical devices, treatments, health-related products and beauty products

A significant addition to the Code is the introduction of a complaints procedure in respect of online behavioral advertising(“OBA”). The rules require an OBA third party to provide notice to web users in or around an online display advertisement if they are undertaking OBA. This notice should link to a mechanism whereby the web user can opt out of the collection and use of web viewing behaviour data. The Board of ASAI has the ability to impose additional sanctions on OBA Third Parties where such parties persistently defy the Code such as the removal of the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance Trust Seal and referral to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

It will be important for businesses advertising in Ireland and Irish media channels to familiarise themselves with the changes to the Code, to ensure that any advertising in Ireland after 1 March 2016 is compliant with the Code and minimise the risk of a complaint to the ASAI and the related negative publicity which might result from an adverse finding by the ASAI.