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Complaint upheld over Classic Hits prize conveying Jerusalem's Old City as Israeli

The ASAI upheld a separate complaint about an undisclosed commercial relationship between influencer Emma Kehoe and Pretty Little Thing.

Image: Shutterstock/MaxZolotukhin

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has upheld a complaint made against Classic Hits over the use of an image of the Old City of Jerusalem in a competition to win flights to Tel Aviv, Israel. 

The complainant said that the image, when taken alongside the text of the advertisement, clearly intended to convey that Jerusalem’s Old City was part of Israel and not an “occupied and illegally colonised area.”

The advertisement appeared in an article on the radio station’s website highlighting a prize that was available via an on-air competition on the station’s breakfast show during the week of the 18 to 22 November 2019.

The on-air promotion referred to in the article offered the prize of return flights from Dublin to Tel Aviv with El Al Airlines.

“Fly to Israel for as little as €319, from May 2020. Enjoy a sunset on Tel Aviv beach, tour the historic city of Jerusalem or float in the dead sea,” the advert read. 

“Enjoy a sunset on Tel Aviv beach, tour the historic city of Jerusalem or float in the dead sea, ” it read under a collection of pictures, which included the Armenian Walls in the Old City Jerusalem. 

The complainant said that the old city was universally recognised an “occupied and illegally colonised area” in International Law, by the UN Security Council, by the UN General Assembly, by the European Union, by the Irish Government, and by all major human rights organisations.

In response to the complaint, Classic Hits said the advert highlighted a number of activities that a prize winner could potentially engage in whilst on their trip to the region, and that the article had made no reference to the nationality of the activities/attractions featured. 

The station argued that Irish travellers seeking holiday options in the region would find a similar approach taken by many travel company operated websites. It said that these travel sites and articles did not deal with the geopolitical issues of the destinations highlighted.

It added that the article had been honest and truthful in relation to the breakfast show, the prize on offer and the details of the prize.

The ASAI complaint’s committee noted that it had not been the station’s intention to imply that any area mentioned in their advertising was in a particular jurisdiction, but given the invitation to “journey to Israel”, without clarification, the implication was that the featured destinations were all in Israel.

“The advertisement had included the statement “Begin your exciting journey to Israel …” and featured a number of destinations, including Jerusalem and its Old City Walls. It had not stated that the destinations were all in Israel. 

“As the Old City was not recognised by the international community as forming part of Israel, the Committee considered that the reference to “begin your exciting journey to Israel” was likely to mislead and was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code,” the ASAI concluded. 

As the competition was closed, no further action was required in this case. 

Pretty Little Thing 

Meanwhile, the ASAI upheld a separate complaint about an undisclosed commercial relationship between an influencer and clothing brand Pretty Little Thing.

The complainant felt Emma Kehoe’s Instagram post for the brand was misleading as it was not identified as an advertisement. 

In response to the complaint, Kehoe confirmed that she had received payment for the post in question and apologised for the oversight.

She said that she had been instructed by the brand to include the Instagram ‘paid partnership’ feature in her post and that she had requested the brand set up this feature for her at the time of the agreement. 

She said that, as the inclusion of ‘#sp’ or similar had not been specifically instructed by the brand, she neglected to include such identifiers in the post. 

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Pretty Little Thing said the agreement which was in place with Kehoe required her to properly identify any social media advertisements on Instagram by way of including the Instagram ‘paid partnerships’ feature. 

It added that she could include ‘#ad’ in the post and asked her to amend the post in question.

The Complaints Committee acknowledged that the post had been amended and welcomed Kehoe’s commitment to ensure transparency in future advertising. 

As the post should have been marked or hashtagged correctly to indicate the existence of a commercial relationship, the committee considered that the post was in breach of Code sections 4.1, 4.4, 3.31 and 3.32.

No further action was required in relation to the advertising complained about, as the post was amended.

Commenting on the ASAI’s latest complaint’s bulletin, which related to the internet and social media, chief executive Orla Twomey said: 

“The latest complaints bulletin from the ASAI illustrates our ability to handle complaints across online platforms, in particular social media, and demonstrates how we ensure that ads in Ireland stick to the advertising rules.

“The ASAI is committed to protecting society in relation to advertising across all mediums. Self-regulatory ad standards provide an additional layer of consumer protection which complements legislative controls and offers an easily accessible means of resolving disputes.”

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Adam Daly

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