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Advertiser: Floki Inu
Agency: Media Agency Group
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.1, 13.1, 13.5
Outdoor advertising for a crypto currency featured the image of a cartoon dog wearing a football kit and a Viking helmet with the following wording:
“Crypto’s No. 1 Dog. Get Floki. Theflokiinu.com”
Two complaints were received regarding the advertising.
Both complainants considered that the product was an investment coin, the value of which could go up or go down. One complainant objected to the advertising on the grounds that it had not included any warning as to the value of the product going up or down.
The media agency responded to the complaints and stated that copy had been submitted for approval and should any amendments have been required this should have been flagged. They advised that this had been the case with advertising in London and the client has been compliant with any request made as they would have been if asked in Ireland.
The media agency said that the advertising was a brand piece with no direct reference to potential returns, past performances or false promises. They said that their aim was to encourage people to research Floki. They considered that their client’s website housed plenty of information and a simple online search would allow people to evaluate the coin. They did not consider that this was taking advantage of people and that they could source thousands of examples of advertising that do not implicitly explain their product/service.
The media agency also said that the advertisements had been submitted for approval and they were accepted and that had any disclaimers been required, their client would have been happy to add them, but the advertisements were accepted without question. They said that their client had followed all procedures that were requested of them and that if there was anyone to question it should be the media agency in Ireland who approved and ran the copy without question.
The Executive reminded the agency of the requirements of Section 3.1 of the Code:
3.1 Primary responsibility for observing the Code rests with advertisers. Advertisers cannot disclaim responsibility where they have caused, directly or indirectly, advertising to be created by direct agents or other third parties on their behalf. Others involved in the preparation and publication of marketing communications, such as agencies, media, affiliates and other service providers, also accept an obligation to abide by the Code.
In response, the agency stated that the Code requirement had stated “Primary Responsibility” which they considered indicated that there were others who also bore responsibility. They stated that the advertisements went through an approval process where they were checked and deemed suitable for posting. They stated that had the advertisements contained offensive language or nudity, they would not have been posted as they would not have conformed with the Code and the media owner would not have approved them, which they considered proved that the media owner had internal due diligence and had chosen to run the advertisements in the form they were supplied.
They said that they were not frequent advertisers in Ireland and had not been directed to the Code nor had they been requested to display any disclaimers by people who they considered fully understood and were experienced in the Irish marketing sector.
The agency also questioned why two complaints were being pursued given the population size of Dublin and that the campaign had finished so did not see what the outcome of the investigation could be as the campaign had finished. Finally, they reiterated that their client had followed the rules, had liaised with compliance teams to make every amendment requested and felt they were now being punished for running approved advertisements.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ agency’s response.
The Complaints Committee noted the agency’s concerns regarding the acceptance of the advertisements for publication, however, they advised them that there is an onus on advertisers to ensure that their advertising is in conformity with the Code.
The Committed noted that the advertising had not included any direct references to potential returns or past performances, however, the advertising had promoted a financial product, the value of which could fluctuate, and the Code requirement was that marketing communications for financial products or services should make it clear in a prominent manner that the value of investments is variable and, unless guaranteed, can go down as well as up. In the absence of this information in the advertising, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Section 13.5 of the Code.
Advertising should not appear in its current form again.