Record number of ASB complaints in 2014

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 15 December 2014

A record number of ads were complained about in 2014, with the “ick-factor” the number one cause of concern, according to the Advertising Standard Board (ASB).

At least 5600 complaints were received over the course of the year with the most complained about ad of the year – by far - coming from online dating site Ashley Madison, which features married men singing “I’m looking for someone other than my wife”. The ad features a parody of the 1976 song "Couldn't Get it Right" by the Climax Blues Band.

Next most offensive was the My Plates commercial featuring a man farting in a car, which received 250 complaints.

However, the ASB noted that none of the 10 most complained about ads breached the advertising standards code.

“While people may not wish to see ‘ick-factor’ images of nose-picking or farting on TV, or about dating sites for married people, the content of these advertisements do not breach the codes,” ASB CEO Fiona Jolly said.

“When the board considers an advertisement, they can only consider the content of the advertisement, not the product being advertised, and can only consider the specific sections of the Code of Ethics. Our stats reveal that complaints this year were boosted by a number of ‘big ticket’ ads, with the 10 most complained about ads this year making up over 35 per cent of total complaint numbers.”

Jolly said a growing awareness of the ASB was one of the main reasons for the up-tick in complaints.

However while the number of ads complaints were far over the previous 2006 record of 4044, the actual number of advertisement complained about was on average. In addition, most ads that were complained about receive fewer than five complaints.

“We received complaints about 552 ads in 2014, an increase from last year but still less than the 595 ads in 2009,” Jolly said.
“Advertisers whose ads have breached the code continue to comply with the board’s determinations and have withdrawn or modified their ad.”

AdNews has also released its Top 10 Ads of the year today.

To see the full list of complained about ads see below:

Most complained about ads in 2014

1. 0307/14 Ashley Madison - Avid Life
TV ad featuring married men singing ‘I'm looking for someone other than my wife’.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 481

2. 0277/14 My Plates
TV ad featuring a man repeatedly passing wind in a car.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 250

3. 0178/14 Menulog
TV ad featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 228

4. 0276/14 My Plates
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 206

5. 0069/14 Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd
TV ad highlighting embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 185

6. 0201/14 Ultra Tune Australia
TV ad featuring two women wearing rubber visiting a tyre store.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 181

7. 0281/14 My Plates
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door, his finger is pixelated.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 180

8. 0438/14 Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Billboard pictures a horse lying on its side and the words ‘Is the party really worth it?’
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 152

9. 0087/14 Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd
TV ad highlighting different embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 146

10. 0014/14 Meat and Livestock Australia
TV ad featuring Sam Kekovich promoting the consumption of lamb on Australia Day.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 80

 

Most complained about ads since 1998

1. 0307/14 Ashley Madison - Avid Life
TV ad featuring a married men singing ‘I'm looking for someone other than my wife’.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 481

2. 156/07 Nando’s Australia Pty Ltd
TV ad featuring a woman in a business suit describes how she can’t afford to have cravings at work, she is then shown in a g-string and pole dancing.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 359

3. 450/09 GASP Denim
Five images of a young topless woman wearing different pairs of tight-fitting jeans
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 297

4. 410/06 Stuart Alexander and Co
TV ad featuring a man’s nipples get longer as he eats Mentos and he walks around town using them to do various things.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 283.

5. 20/07 Advanced Medical Institute
This outdoor advertisement features red words on a yellow background reading ‘want longer lasting sex?’
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 265

6. 0277/14 My Plates
TV ad featuring a man repeatedly passing wind in a car.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 250

7. 0178/14 Menulog
TV ad featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 228

8. 0284/10 Advanced Medical Institute
A woman is trying to reach for a jar in a cupboard. She calls to her husband to help. He opens his robe and she looks over him with awe. She then appears to stand on his erect penis to reach the jar.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 227

9. 0176/11 Queensland Association for Healthy Communities
Billboard with the words ‘Rip & Roll’ written in large letters across the centre, with an image of a red condom in its wrapper and two men: one man is embracing the other man from behind while holding a red condom wrapper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 222

10. 284/05 Advanced Medical Institute
TV ad showing two men in tuxedos standing behind grand piano - they drop pants and undies and start playing the piano with their penises.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 217

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Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day. Need a job? Visit adnewsjobs.com.au.

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