The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has upheld in part complaints against the Irish Cancer Society for its controversial campaign 'I want to get cancer'.

92 complaints were received about the advertising.

According to the ASAI, the common theme running through the complaints was that the wording used was "offensive, insensitive, disrespectful and upsetting to cancer survivors, current sufferers, bereaved families and those who may currently be undergoing tests or waiting on the results of same".

However, the Irish Cancer Society said that cancer is a complex disease, and highly emotive and by promoting such a hard hitting campaign it was trying to inform people more about the disease and encourage them to seek out facts.

In upholding the complaint, the ASAI considered that there was a tolerance in society for charity advertising to be more provocative than commercial advertising, nevertheless, it said "care was needed when addressing such an emotive issue as cancer, particularly when using provocative copy".

The committee noted the level of complaint and the distress that had been caused to complainants.

The advertising campaign started with 'teaser' advertising where the advertisers were not identified and the wording 'I want to get cancer" featured. 

The following day, the reveal advertising appeared and the identity of the Irish Cancer Society was revealed.

The ASAI found that while some of the advertising was very clear in explaining the context of the message they found that other vignettes on TV had not been clear as to what the individuals meant by wanting to 'get cancer', and were therefore likely to cause distress to consumers.

Other complaints related to the campaign and the line "By 2020, 1 in 2 of us will be getting cancer in our lifetime" were not upheld by the ASAI.