The outdoor poster featured a background picture of a radio speaker and referred to the following:
“Take the bullshitters by the horns.
MOVE THE DIAL TO IVAN AND CHRIS
Breakfast 7.00 – 10.00am Weekdays. Newstalk Cork City 107.8FM”
The complaints considered that the language used in the advertising was coarse, vulgar and offensive. Some complainants also considered such language inappropriate for use in outdoor posters in public areas where children may see them. One complainant considered that the use of this type of language may create a bad impression to those holidaying in Ireland.
The advertisers said that Newstalk was Ireland’s fastest growing independent talk radio station with a weekly reach of over 711,000 listeners over 26 counties. The radio station continued to grow in listenership and considered itself to be the independent voice of Ireland. They said they had a track record for premium and engaging marketing campaigns that helped build their reputation and listenership.
The advertisers said that the campaign in question was developed to communicate the station’s ‘Don’t hold back’ proposition. They believed in saying what their listeners believed without changing their views. They said this campaign had demonstrated that they were willing to stand up for what they believed in and spoke out on subjects that mattered. They said the message contained within their advertisement had reaffirmed the philosophy of their radio station and they had not intentionally set out to cause offence. They said their campaign had not encouraged the use of bad language, they had used a play on words to get across the message that they were determined to get to the bottom of important news stories and be truthful to their listeners.
They advertisers said the target audience for their advertising campaign was adults in the 25-55 age group who were resident in Ireland. They had never intended to misrepresent Ireland in a bad light to tourists or visitors to the country. They said they would continue to develop provocative advertising that would interest and challenge the viewer, while at the same time maintaining the standards of the appropriate advertising codes.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. They reminded the advertisers that marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. They advised that advertisers should bear in mind the extent to which a word’s impact in an advertisement can be influenced by the media used. While the use of the word might be acceptable in a more targeted media, they did not consider that it was acceptable for outdoor advertising. In the circumstances the Complaints Committee upheld the complaints under Sections 2.2 and 2.15 of the Code.
The advertising must not be used in its current form again. The Complaints Committee also asked the advertisers to take the concerns expressed by the complainants on board when creating future marketing communications.