Media releases

‘Inappropriate’ behaviours fuel ad complaints

Swearing, overly sexual and ill-mannered behaviour and affairs have all featured as issues in the list of most complained about advertisements in 2015.

“What we can see from the list is that complainants are particularly concerned with seeing behaviour in advertisements that they view as inappropriate,” Advertising Standards Bureau, Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fiona Jolly said.

An advertisement which featured a young boy saying ‘bloody’ topped the list, with 161 complaints lodged.

“This wasn’t the only advertisement raising language concerns that featured in the list, with an advertisement for a paper towel company using the phrase ‘oh sheet’ coming in at number nine,” Ms Jolly said.

An advertisement for an online dating company for married people looking to have an affair was the second most complained about, and another showing a woman licking chip flavouring off a man’s lip came in third.

Advertisements which featured a stereotypical depiction of a woman in a bad mood while on her period, a sweaty man wiping himself at the gym, a woman flicking a belt at a snake and one in which a woman refers to her cat as a ‘big pussy’ also featured in the 10 most complained about list.

“When the Board considers an advertisement, they can only consider the content of the advertisement, under the specific sections of the Code of Ethics.

“While some people may not like to see ‘bad behaviour’ in advertising, the content of many of these advertisements did not breach the code,” Ms Jolly said.

The Board found that just over 70 advertisements breached different sections of the Code this year. Of the 10 most complained about advertisements, only one was found to breach the Code.

Ms Jolly said complaint numbers had fallen from last year’s record numbers, but had remained consistent with previous years.

“Last year was a huge year for us in terms of complaints, with a number of controversial advertising complaints attracting large numbers of complaints,” Ms Jolly said.

In 2014 the most complained about advertisement received 481 complaints – almost three times as many as the most complained about this year.

In 2015 the ASB received more than 4000 complaints, and the Board considered more than 450 separate advertisements.

 

Most complained about ads 2015

0098/15 Holden Ltd
TV ad features a man driving and complaining about "Bloody caravaners".
Main issue of concern: 2.5 - Language Inappropriate language
Dismissed, number of complaints: 161

0036/15 Ashley Maddison – Avid Life
TV ad features men singing about "looking for someone other than my wife".
Main issue of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or Vilification Gender
Upheld, number of complaints: 138

0253/15 Fantastic Snacks Australia
TV ad shows a wife licking chip flavouring off her husband’s lips.
Main issue of concern: 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity - general
Dismissed, number of complaints: 85

0340/15 Unicharm Australasia
TV ad features a woman in a variety of stereotypical scenarios related to having her period.
Main issue of concern:  2.1 - Discrimination or Vilification Gender
Dismissed, number of complaints: 76

0118/15 Sportsbet
TV ad which features a sweaty man wiping himself at the gym.
Main issue of concern: - Other Social Values
Dismissed, number of complaints: 71

0208/15 Stan
TV ad refers to a cat as a ‘big pussy’.
Main issue of concern: 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity - general
Dismissed, number of complaints: 66

0026/15 Unilever Australia
TV ad for a hair product which features two men kissing.
Main issue of concern: 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity - general
Dismissed, number of complaints: 62

0326/15 Hyundai Motor Company Australia Pty Ltd
TV ad features a woman flicking her belt at a snake.
Main issue of concern: 2.3 - Violence Cruelty to animals
Dismissed, number of complaints: 59

0291/15 SCA Hygiene Australasia
TV ad featuring people saying “oh sheet”.
Main issue of concern: 2.5 - Language Inappropriate language
Dismissed, number of complaints: 56

0401/15 Edgewell
TV ad features three women trimming bonsai plants in front of their crotches.
Main issue of concern: 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity - general
Dismissed, number of complaints: 53