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Product: Leisure (Exhibition)
Advertiser: Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd
Medium: Internet (Third Party Website), Press
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.34, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9
Advertising in press and on Ticketmaster’s website for “Revolution 1916 the Exhibition” referred to the following:
The press advertisement which was accompanied by pictures of some of the Leaders of the 1916 Rising and the tricolour, referred to the following:
“Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
Already seen by over 40,000 people
Original & Authentic Exhibition
Ambassador Theatre O’Connell Street…”
Internet - Third Party Website (Ticketmaster.ie)
Opening 27th Feb. 2016
CELEBRATE THE CENTENARY.
2016 Tickets, MCD & Ticketmaster, www.revolution1916.ie
Celebrate the Centenary by paying a visit to the must see Revolution 1916 The Original & Authentic Exhibition.
A fitting location for the exhibition, the Ambassador Theatre was formerly the Rotunda Rink and dates back to 1764. It was here on 25 November 1913 that the Irish Volunteers held a mass meeting and many volunteers who took part in the 1916 Rising signed up.
During the 1916 Rising, the Ambassador was the backdrop for the famous image of British Soldiers posing with the captured Irish Republic flag held upside down and inside out. Beside the building is where the captured rebels from the G.P.O. and Four Courts garrisons were held out overnight at the front of the Rotunda.
The Exhibition will feature the largest private collection of 1916 artefacts, with over 500 items on display, on loan from the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation (IVCO). Exhibits will include an original 1916 Proclamation, uniforms from the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and na Fianna, 1916 weapons including Howth Mausers, German Lugers, Peter the Painter C96 machine pistol as favoured by Patrick Pearse, French Bayonets and even the actual door handle of the G.P.O. from 1916.
The exhibition will use the 1916 Proclamation as its overall theme and will examine the “six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms” as the lead up to the events of 1916. A series of sets will take the visitor through the main locations of the 1916 Rising including The G.P.O., Moore St, and recreating the 1916 Kilmainham landing and walk to the stonebreakers yard.
The role of The Irish and Fenian Republican Brotherhood since its formation in 1858 to the establishment of Sovereignty 60 years later after the 1918 elections will be presented in the exhibition. The ratification of the 1916 Proclamation by the First Dáil Éireann on 21st January 1919 with the Declaration of Independence will be featured along with the original sovereign seal.
At midday every day a uniformed “Patrick Pearse” will read aloud the 1916 Proclamation outside the Ambassador in what is sure to become an iconic image of the centenary year.
“We have put together a special school tour package with student tickets priced at just €8 and each tour booking will receive study notes on the Easter Rising compiled by James Connolly Heron, the great grandson of 1916 leader James Connolly” said Exhibition spokesperson Bartle D’Arcy.
Demand for tickets for this must see exhibition will his year (sic) with Dublin set to have over four million overseas visitors alone. Tickets to the exhibition will be date stamped on the Easter Feast Weekend and for all anniversary dates relating to the Rising and will become a memento of your visit in the Centenary Year.
Three complaints were received, the first related to the advertising on Ticketmaster.ie. The second two related to the print advertising (and were received after press coverage that a complaint had been received).
The three complainants objected to the advertising on the following grounds:
All three complainants said they attended the Exhibition and had received no prior indication that the Exhibition had been organised by Sinn Féin or that a political party would benefit from its profits. One complainant said that it was only when he bought the Commemorative Programme that he became aware of Sinn Féin’s involvement.
The complainants said they were also surprised to find a section on the 1980-1981 H-Block Hunger Strikers, as this part of the Exhibition had not been referenced in the advertising material. They considered that it was inappropriate to link those who fought in 1916 with the Hunger Strikers of the 1980’s.
All complainants considered the advertising to be misleading on the grounds set out in the two areas above.
Ireland 1916 Commemoration Limited, the producers of the Exhibition, were asked for their comments. Their initial response related to the advertising on Ticketmaster.ie. They said that the Exhibition opened to the public on 27th February 2016, advertised from November 2015 and had received 50,000 visitors so far. They said that the first complaint referred to a press release for the exhibition that was included on the Ticketmaster website and not in fact to an advertisement. Notwithstanding this fact, however, they said they would address the issues raised.
In relation to the complaint that the Exhibition was organised by and for the benefit of Sinn Féin, the advertisers said that Sinn Féin did not organise the Exhibition nor did they benefit from it. They pointed out that exhibition website www.revolution1916 listed them as the organisers (Ireland 1916 Commemoration Ltd) under the ‘about us’ tab. They said that the Commemorative Programme referenced Sinn Fein’s support for the Exhibition in its foreword.
In relation to the complaint that the Exhibition included a section on the 1980-81 H-Block Hunger Strikers, which had not been detailed in the advertising, the advertisers agreed that there was a section in the Exhibition that covered Hunger Strikers. The section ranged from the 1916 central character of the Exhibition, (also not mentioned in press release) Molly O’Reilly, who was on hunger strike for 16 days in North Dublin Union in 1923, to fellow 1916 veterans Thomas Ashe who died on hunger strike in Mountjoy prison on 25th September 1917 and Terence MacSwiney Mayor of Cork who died October 25th 1920 in Brixton Prison.
The advertisers said that more modern day hunger strikers, Michael Gaughran who died 3rd June 1974 in Parkhurst Prison and Frank Stagg who died 12th February 1976 in Wakefield prison, also featured in the Exhibition but the complaint was confined to 1980-81 H-Block Hunger Strikers who feature in the exhibition.
The advertisers considered that the first complaint clearly referred to the complainant’s opinion as self-stated and was subjective. They felt that good exhibitions should be challenging, thought provoking and generate debate.
The advertisers pointed out that the Press Release did not mention several parts of the Exhibition i.e. Ancient Ireland theme, Large murals, Molly O’Reilly Story & Statute, Women of the Revolution section, Michael Collin’s gun & car, War of Independence section, Underground tunnels exhibit and Audio Visual section. For context they said there were a total of 3 large display cases, 8 medium display and 9 small display cases in the Exhibition. They advised that the section in relation to the Hunger Strikers had taken up 1 medium and 1 small display case.
The advertisers said that the Press Release was not meant to be the definitive guide to the contents of the exhibition but its purpose had been rather to whet the appetite and consumers were then invited to visit www.revolution1916.ie to access further information on the Exhibition.
In relation to the subsequent two complaints received (both of which were on the basis of the two complaints outlined in the Complaint section), the advertisers said that the complainants were again following a subjective narrative where the authors disagreed with part of the Exhibition content and used emotive and opinionated language. The advertisers said that Irish History in the last 100 years since 1916 was divisive and would elicit alternate opinions and discussion. The same History was included on the Irish School curriculum; this was natural and would particularly refer to parts of Irish History that were censored previously under Section 31 legislation which no longer existed.
The advertisers referred to extensive media coverage which they considered had arisen out of press reports about complaints having been received by the ASAI, and said that this had generated only two further “complaints”. They said that an internal survey on site of 1000 people demonstrated 98% satisfaction rating and the largest promotional tool in the survey was word of mouth at 29%. The Exhibition was advertised extensively since November 2015 (over 6 months before first complaint). They said that the Exhibition opened on 27th February and traded for a month prior to the first complaint. They added that this was the context to the single first complaint being made and the two follow up ones after the media speculation.
The advertisers said that all their advertisements contained a three tier structure as follows.
REVOLUTION 1916. Exhibition name.
The exhibition content and structure explicitly carries out what is referred to in the exhibition name.
THE ORIGINAL & AUTHENTIC EXHIBITION. Strap line.
ORIGINAL referring to artefact collection supplied by Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation I.V.C.O. which were all original artefacts unlike other exhibitions which contain replicas or misrepresented artefacts.
AUTHENTIC refers to the presentation of the narrative of the Exhibition that is not subject to dilution or revisionism and is wholly truthful and accurate. This implies a distinction between REVOLUTION 1916 and official state organised exhibitions on content.
EXHIBITION refers to the layout, artefact cases, storyboarding, audio visual aspects which are in keeping with expectation of an exhibition.
AMBASSADOR THEATRE The venue and promoter
They said that this informational featured prominently on all advertisements as the location and promoter of the exhibition. Occasionally the advertisements featured as part of its parent company MCD programme of adverts and events and was listed on the MCD website.
They said that the exhibition was promoted by the Ambassador Theatre, was produced by Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd.
At the time of receipt of the complaint, ASAI checked www.revolution1916.ie for contact details.
The ‘Contact Us’ Page stated the following contact information:
44 Parnell SQ
T: 00353 (01) 1 8726100
For information on Sinn Féin the political party and how to join see here www.sinnfein.ie
For REVOLUTION 1916 the Exhibition tickets and opening times see here.
An Internet Archive Wayback machine search of the ‘About Us’ page on www.revolution1916.ie showed in September 2015 the following information:
“The website and exhibition are owned and produced by Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd. a not for profit company set up to operate Sinn Féin’s 1916 Centenary programme.”
At the time of adjudication, in August 2016, under the ‘About Us’ page the following:
“The website and exhibition are owned and produced by Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd. a not for profit company set up to operate a 1916 Centenary programme.”
Complaints Upheld In Part.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ responses.
Complaint 1 – Not Upheld.
The Committee noted the contact details on the website and that prior to the complaints being investigated, the ‘About Us’ information had referred to the fact that Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd had been set up to “operate Sinn Féin’s 1916 Centenary programme”.
The Committee also noted that the advertisers had acknowledged that Sinn Féin were supporters of the Exhibition, but that the website which offered more information on the Exhibition indicated that all monies were reinvested in the commemoration events and that the company responsible for organising the event were a ‘not for profit company’.
The Committee were of the opinion that it may not be normal practice to identify production companies for Exhibitions in third party advertising. They understood that some consumers might be concerned if a production company was set up by a political party. Notwithstanding these factors they did not consider that the Code would require that all involved in an Exhibition or the production of one, be identified in third party advertising.
The Committee did not consider the advertising to be in breach of the Code on the basis of Complaint 1.
Complaint 2 – Complaint Upheld.
The Complaints Committee noted the title of the Exhibition “Revolution 1916” and considered that most people would form the view from the title that the Exhibition would be centred on the historical events which took place in, or in close proximity to, 1916. The Committee considered that if the advertisers were using, or referencing specific events from modern day history, that this should have been referenced in the main copy of the advertising to allow those interested in attending the Exhibition to make an informed choice as to whether or not they wished to do so. This consideration is notwithstanding the scale of the modern day historical material on display in proportion to the main body of historical information exhibited. Taking all these factors into account and on this basis, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.