A BILLBOARD advertisement by The Irish Examiner newspaper has provoked fury in Limerick, after the advert depicted the city as a crime scene, with a number of people calling for a boycott of the paper until an apology is issued.
The advert highlights an upcoming feature in the newspaper, scheduled for next week, documenting crime across cities and towns in Ireland. The billboard featuring Limerick is one of a number of different scenes which have gone on display across Munster.
The advert shows a sweeping view of King John’s Castle and the River Shannon, with the question posed, and crime scene tape across the scene.
The controversial advert, which was posted outside Colbert Station, the main entry to Limerick for many visitors, was torn down last night.
It is not known if similar billboards are in situ on the Dock Road, and near the Hunt Museum, which are regular locations for Examiner billboards.
Editor of the Irish Examiner, Tim Vaughan, defended the advertising campaign on the local airwaves this morning, saying iconic scenes from different cities are depicted in each of the posters relevant to particular areas.
Mr Vaughan said “people are jumping to the wrong conclusion” and described the reaction in Limerick as “unfortunate”.
He said the paper has a “great relationship with Limerick” and believes they have covered more positive Limerick stories than any other national newspaper.
He said the poster campaign was initiated to “get a reaction”, but added that this was “in no way a victimisation of Limerick”.
Mr Vaughan said he stands over the “overall campaign” and said it would have been disingenuous to exclude Limerick from the campaign.
“Should we treat Limerick differently,” he asked.
Speaking on Live 95FM, Tom Felle, the head of journalism at the University of Limerick, described the advert as “scandalous”.
“It’s quite simply a marketing ploy by the Examiner, and it’s working. I wonder will it backfire. It’s a scandalous attempt to piggy-back on the reputation of Limerick..quite simply it’s a dumb advert. This only works if you get annoyed. The more you talk about it the more this ad becomes successful,” said Mr Felle.
Frankie Mulqueen, a Young Fine Gael executive member in Limerick, also took to the airwaves, saying the advert paints a false picture of Limerick, which he described as a “beautiful, incredibly safe city.”
“This is against everything we’re trying to work to achieve at the moment..It’s completely unfair on Limerick and not reflective of the reality on the streets. It’s our job as Limerick people to defend our city,” he said.
Stephen Kinsella, an economist in UL, also lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland about the hoarding.
In his complaint, he states: “The city’s reputation as a crime centre has waned in recent years, as statistics from the CSO attest. However the image depicts yellow crime scene tape over and across King John’s Castle, one of the city’s major tourist destinations, as if a serious crime had just taken place outside the castle, which is quite beyond artistic license or interpretation. I would be very surprised if the owner of these images gave permission for them to be used in this way. The image misrepresents the true nature of crime in Limerick city and does so, I believe, in a malicious and vexatious manner. I’m offended by this advertisement. I’ve never complained about one before in fact. But this must not be allowed to pass without complaint. Please investigate this advertisement.”