A television advertisement for Energia featured a father talking to his twin daughters about the cost of supporting them, stating:
"Times are tough, as you know we are having to downsize. We can longer afford to have two people essentially fulfilling the same role."
"There’s not really any need for both of ya, so we are going to let one of you go."
The father and one of the twin girls are then shown waving goodbye to the second twin from their front door as she walks away from the house with her belongings in a box.
The voiceover stated:
“You don’t have to act like a business to save like one. Energia, Ireland’s business energy supplier now available in your home. “
Fourteen complaints were received about the advertisement. The complainants considered that the depiction of a father sending one of his children away was offensive and insensitive to the insecurities children could feel on viewing the advertisement. Several complainants also referred to the current financial hardships being experienced by many families and its effect on their children and how the advertisement could play on their fears.
The advertisers stated that they were sorry to hear that people had been personally upset by their advertisement as it had not been their intention. They stated the advertisement was part of their domestic launch campaign, the theme of which was “You don’t have to act like a business to save like one”. In this advertisement, the family are shown to be attempting to ‘act like a business’ by trying to save money by downsizing. They stated that the advertisements’ humour lay in the absurdity of any home acting like a business in order to save money. They referred to all of their advertisements in the campaign and that each advertisement had shown a money saving technique that a business could use, such as laying off staff or outsourcing roles, which a family clearly could not. They stated that the humour lay in the absurdity of the situations and they considered that that humour was clearly signposted by performance, direction and editing, as well as underlined by the voiceover at the end of the advertisement.
They stated that the campaign theme referenced their reputation as a trusted business energy supplier as they had operated in Ireland since 1999 and supplied over 65,000 business customers.
They also stated that the scenario in the advertisement was completely unrealistic and unimaginable in that nobody would ever do this and they were not suggesting that anyone should. They were, they stated, suggesting that you do not have to do something crazy to save money, you could simply switch energy providers.
They stated that the advertisement had been cleared for broadcast by RTE.
Complaints Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisement was part of a campaign in which business solutions to saving money were humorously portrayed in domestic settings. The Committee did not consider that the advertisement was meant to be taken seriously and, while noting the comments and concerns of the complainants, they did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code.
No further action required.