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Two complaints against online bank upheld over offensive use of word 'bulls**t' in ad campaign

Complainants considered references to the word to be offensive and unnecessary.

Image: Shutterstock/Ascannio

TWO COMPLAINTS AGAINST an online bank for using the word “bullshit” in an advertisement have been upheld by the advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) received the complaints about the German bank N26 which used the expletive as part of an outdoor advertising campaign.

The text of the ad read: “N26 The first bank you’ll love. The Mobile Bank #nobullshit. Open your free bank account…”

The advertisement was the subject of two complaints, after the complainants considered the reference to “bullshit” to be offensive and unnecessary.

In response, N26 claimed that the addressee of their #nobullshit message was not the consumer of the advertising itself, but rather outdated banking systems.

It said the campaign had been “very well received” by the public, saying it had evidence of this from social media activity from last summer.

However, the bank also said that from now on, its advertisements would adhere to the requirements of the Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland.

They said that since last November, it had started a new #26reasons campaign in Ireland instead.

In considering the complaints, the ASAI noted that the campaign in question had ended and that N26 were willing to adhere to the requirements of the ASAI Code.

However, the authority’s complaints committee also noted that under the requirements of the Code, marketing communications should have a responsibility to consumers and society and should not use offensive or provocative copy or images to attract attention.

The committee considered that the impact of words in an advertisement could be influenced by the media used, and did not consider that the use of word “bullshit” was acceptable for out-of-home advertising.

The committee upheld the complaints under sections 3.3 and 3.20 of the Code, but said that because the advertisement was no longer running, no further action was required.

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