2021 Review of Operations

Our Review of Operations provides an insight into advertising complaint statistics and key areas of work in 2021. 

Complaints and cases 

2021 reflected the beginning of the advertising industry’s return to normal as demonstrated through an increase in advertising spend and a 33% increase in complaints compared with 2020. 

More than 4,500 complaints were lodged in 2021 resulting in 315 cases went to the Community Panel for review. Of the ads reviewed by the Community Panel, 85 were found to be in breach of one or more of the advertising rules.  

The most complained about ad in 2021 was a Crazy Domains TV ad that received almost 300 complaints and was taken off the air. 

The top issues  

The top issues of concern in 2021 were sex, sexuality and nudity followed by health and safety. We also received a much higher number of complaints compared to previous years raising concerns about distinguishable advertising. This follows the update to the Code of Ethics in 2021 in response to the growing influencer marketing industry in Australia. 

While complaints about environmental claims were low, we are seeing this increase year on year as more brands attempt to capitalise on consumer interest in this issue. 

The platforms 

As with past years, ads seen on free-to-air TV generated the most complaints followed by social media. Ads seen on TV on-demand also attracted more complaints than ever before with more Australians subscribing to on-demand services.  

The Community Panel 

The success of Australia’s advertising self-regulation system would not be possible without the Ad Standards Community Panel. From across the country and all walks of life, the members of the Community Panel played a vital role in the success of Australia’s advertising self-regulation system in 2021.  

For a quick snapshot of the key facts and figures see the Review of Operations at a glance.  

For a more in-depth look at our work and complaints statistics, read the report in full.