10 Most Complained About Ads in 2013

December 16, 2013

This year’s most complained about ads raise a broader range of issues than in previous years, although complaint numbers about individual ads are lower.

“While the numbers of complaints about individual ads were lower than in previous years, the reasons for complaint and the issues raised were broader,” Advertising Standards Bureau, Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fiona Jolly said.

The most complained about ad in 2013 was a television ad featuring a mouth detaching itself from its owner resulting in 65 complaints, with another television advertisement featuring adults with children’s heads 42, and a billboard featuring the word “boobs” 36.

“In recent years there have been advertisements which have resulted in up to 220 complaints. Last year’s most complained about ad received more than double the complaints than this year’s number one,” Ms Jolly said.

Ms Jolly said complaints about the most complained about advertisement ranged from the imagery used being distasteful, stomach turning, vile and disgusting, with some suggesting they change channels or turn away from the screen and one complainant suggesting they will not continue to drink the product. The remaining nine ads raised issues as far ranging as irrelevance, inappropriateness, disrespect and objectification, unsafe driving, promotion of violence, domestic violence, animal cruelty, sexualisation of women and children, inappropriate language use, all of which caused complainants to feel a range of emotions including unease, outrage, anxiousness, disappointment and discomfort.

In 2013 the Board found that two of the 10 most complained about ads breached the AANA Code of Ethics. One was found to breach on grounds of unjustified violence in relation to the product being advertised and the other in relation to unsafe driving.

A television ad which attracted 32 complaints, showed a mother’s shock after being slapped by her child and was found to breach the Code, while the other ad which breached the Code received a similar number of complaints (31) was a modified version of a vehicle advertisement which had also been found to breach the Code after receipt of 21 complaints.

Of the most complained about ads, eight were shown on television, the other two were seen outdoors.

Ms Jolly said while the majority of ads in the 10 most complained about list were cleared by the Board, preliminary figures show that approximately 60 ads were found to breach the Code in 2013.

“Around 50 of the ads which were found to breach the Code received fewer than five complaints. This highlights the importance and effectiveness of getting online and making a complaint,” Ms Jolly said.

“If someone is offended or thinks an ad goes against community health and safety standards, it’s easy and quick to lodge a complaint and have it considered by a Board made up of community representatives.

“Advertisers whose ads have breached the Code continue to comply with the Board’s determinations and have withdrawn or modified their ad,” Ms Jolly said.

According to preliminary figures almost 455 advertisements were considered by the Board in 2013.

Case reports about advertisements considered by the Advertising Standards Board during 2013 can be viewed on the ASB website www.adstandards.com.au. The list of the 10 most complained about advertisements follows.

Contact: Fiona Jolly, Chief Executive Officer, 02 6173 1500


Most Complained about ads in 2013

1    0398/13 Lion
TV ad featuring a man at a party whose mouth detaches from his face and jumps onto the bench and talks to him.
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 66

2    0338/13 Vodafone Network Pty Ltd
TV ad where kiddults are shown going to nightclubs in glittering dresses.
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 42

3    0361/13 Bonds Industries Ltd
Billboard with plain black background, with white wording "boobs".
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 36

4    0186/13 Yellow Brick Road Super
TV ad opens with female with a child in pram – child slaps woman.
Upheld - Modified or Discontinued. Number of complaints - 32

5    0230/13 Nissan Motor Co (Aust) Pty Ltd
TV ad with Nissan Pulsar racing through streets to get pregnant woman to hospital and recording their fastest time – second version.
Upheld - Modified or Discontinued. Number of complaints - 31

6    0166/13 Chrysler Australia Pty Ltd
TV ad where woman is taking her dog to a dog training class led by a male teacher.
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 24

7    0331/13 Windsor Smith Pty Ltd
TV ad where men with tattoos and women in underwear walk around against a white background and contemporary music playing.
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 24

8    0151/13 Australian National Preventive Health Agency
TV ad shows a man struggling to breathe expanding. A voiceover suggests that this happens to people who smoke and that emphysema is a dreadful way to die.
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 23

9    0274/13 Target Australia Pty Ltd
TV ad where designer calls breasts "bangers".
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 23

10   0117/13 SSAA
Large outdoor poster showing a man posing with a large rifle. Wording reads "Electrician by Day - Hunter by Choice".
Dismissed. Number of complaints - 22

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