Advertising on RTE

By | December 13, 2007

Because there are loads of things I should be doing but am not, I ended up reading the Seanad debates on the 1960 Broadcasting Act. This argument by Professor Patrick Quinlan, NUI Senator, for the control of advertising on RTE is hilarious:

“Let me take as an example Aer Lingus advertising. It is a body which has to pay its way. It advertises wonderful holidays abroad and, as it were, tries to attract us all to take our holidays in foregin parts. Of course, if too many followed that advice it would be very detrimental to the country’s economy. In the same way, but on a much graver scale, we can relate this to the question of agricultural advertising. It is well known that our farmers are impressionable in the matter of advertising and demonstration. One needs only to go to the Spring Show and walk around the machinery exhibits to see young farmers looking at all the wonderful gadgets, like young boys in a toyshop, and if they had sufficient money or credit, they would have all those wonderful gadgets home with them.

That is a very real problem. It is so real that the first committee set up by the Agricultural Institute was a committee for the evaluation of machinery, so as to be able to advise the farming community what machinery was suited to our conditions and to mark them preferentially, because machines which work well elsewhere under far different conditions are not always suited to conditions here.


I feel then that if we take that paragraph alone, there should be some type of a veto on the machinery that is advertised. For instance, it could carry the stamp of approval of the machinery evaluation section of the Agricultural Institute which would mean that what is advertised is a genuine product. How can we achieve that? Certainly we do not want to foist on our farming community £1,000,000, or maybe £2,000,000 worth of machinery that is not suited to our purposes, merely for the sake of getting [463] in another £20,000 or £30,000 worth of advertising. In this matter, we must look at our economy as a whole.

The other feature is that of consumer advertising. I expect one could include in that kitchen equipment, and one can visualise the impact on the Irish housewife of wonderful gadgets being advertised in her own home, especially when she is told that no self-respecting housewife would be without these aids and that all she has to do is put down half-a-crown and get them on the “never-never” system. Therefore, the impact of these two things, together with the all too free availability of hire purchase, presents a very grave national threat.”

My emphasis. Wonderful, isn’t it?

12 thoughts on “Advertising on RTE

  1. Uncle Junior

    “Women, know your limits”, as Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield used to say!

  2. Pete

    The real threat was that people might learn to think critically for themselves, which wouldn’t have suited those in positions of power at the time one little bit!

  3. P O'Neill

    Maybe that famous Fintan O’Toole column needs an encore — did Charlie see the fondue set advertised on RTE and from there his greed arose?

  4. Tomaltach

    My God Sarah, reading the 1960 Broadcasting Act. And Senate debates on same. Holy Christ. Christmas doesn’t do anything for you does it 😉

  5. tom

    I think we should have listened to this chap.

    Advertising is designed to make us miserable so we buy stuff. the end result is humanity on a treadmill and the environmental mess we find ourselves in.

  6. Sarah Post author

    Yes Tom. Those old debates are great. People with principles :-) our Founding Fathers were dacent min.

  7. Gordon Davies

    Advertisers know that consumers acquire a critical attitude to their messages. Which is why advertising has grown increasingly sophisticated. Worryingly for advertisers, a proportion of the population is impervious to normal techniques.

    Personally I think that Professor Quinlan made a good point. In Ireland and elsewhere a supply of cheap credit has, over the years, allowed many to purchase a lot of useless and inadequate junk.


  8. donkykemore

    I cant get my head round this Clairol ad.
    Now thery’re doing it for the mens products
    Does that mean the person beside me is not worth it , or that only those of us who watch the ad are worth it . It must mean we are at least more it than others who havent yet had the wisdom and maturity to use the product.
    But Tell me . Is Mars Harney Worth it . and if she is what is IT that she is worth .
    Please no vulgarities to this rhetorical question.

  9. Paul Cahill

    You are looking back with hindsight. Around the time Prof. Quinlan (my late grandfather) wrote this the irish economy was in ruins. Unemployment was high, poverty widespread and these ads were encourgaging people to spend what little money on products for which they had no need.

    Although it may now seem strange, back then it was a serious problem. Although with the amount of useless products bought in ireland each year, his arguement may well be perfectly valid today

  10. Sarah Post author

    You could be right :-)

    “Unemployment was high, poverty widespread”

    and who’s fault was that? FIANNA FAIL’s

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