This information provides a general overview of Ad Standards Community Panel determinations on complaints about language in advertising.

It is designed to assist the advertising industry, the self-regulatory body, consumers and others interested in ensuring that advertising does not breach the AANA Code of Ethics or community standards regarding the way in which language is used in advertising.

It is not a “how to” guide, and is not an extensive or exhaustive consideration of all relevant issues.


Relevant section of the AANA Code of Ethics

2.5 Advertising or Marketing Communications shall only use language which is appropriate in the circumstances (including appropriate for the relevant audience and medium).  Strong or obscene language shall be avoided.



Relevant audience is applicable to the restrictions on treatment of sex, sexuality and nudity, language and clearly distinguishable advertising. Relevant audience is informed by the content of the advertising or marketing communication as well as other material that may be provided by the advertiser including classification material, audience measurement data and the media placement plan, to determine the audience that the advertiser intends to see the advertising or marketing communication.


Level of community concern

Community concern about language in advertising has been reflected in complaints to Ad Standards.

In 2020 language accounted for 5.59 per cent of complaints to Ad Standards.


Further information

For more information see the AANA Code of Ethics: Practice Note.