Media releases

Ad Standards reveals the top 10 of 2019

The top 10 most complained about advertisements in 2019 revealed today by the advertising complaints adjudicator, Ad Standards, reflects community concerns across a broad range of social issues covered by the advertising codes in Australia.

Top of the list are concerns about sexualised content in ads, followed closely by ads thought to discriminate against or vilify people.

“Sex and nudity, and discrimination or vilification are consistently some of the most complained about issues. This year also shows increased community concern about ads with violence or content which is exploitative or degrading,” said Ad Standards Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fiona Jolly.

The most complained about advertisement in 2019 was for a free-to-air television commercial for sanitary products showing everyday depictions of menstruation.

Now the third most complained about ad of all time, Ad Standards received over 730 complaints about the advertisement, with concerns raised about sexuality and nudity, discrimination, exploitation, violence, and health and safety.

“Our most complained about advertisements often reflect the community reaction to advertisements which push the boundaries on social issues.

“The advertising self-regulation system provides a mechanism for judging community standards on these social issues, and our most complained about advertisement this year also received a nomination for our Kinder Conditions campaign, and overwhelming expression of public support for the Community Panel’s decision that the advertisement did not breach community standards,” said Ms Jolly.

The second most complained about ad in 2019 with 366 complaints was for a TVC for a sports betting app showing protesters, a scam victim and a sports personality. Concerns ranged from discrimination or vilification to sex, sexuality and nudity, and language.

While the bulk of complaints in 2019 were about ads seen on free-to-air television, the top ten list this year also includes an outdoor billboard for a horror film, and an ad on social media with discriminatory and health and safety concerns.

“The 2019 results show the importance for advertisers to ensure their content is appropriate for the relevant audience for a particular media channel.

“The results also show that the community understands the advertising codes protect community standards and that Ad Standards acts on their concerns,” said Ms Jolly.

In 2019 Ad Standards received nearly 5,500 complaints, with over 400 cases considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel. All Community Panel determinations are published as case reports online at


1. 0262/19 - Asaleo Care – Libra – TV – Free-to-Air
Various period-related visuals appear on screen promoting the #bloodnormal campaign.
Number of complaints: 738
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 - Exploitative or degrading, 2.3 - Violence, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity, 2.6 - Health and safety.

2. 0261/19 – Sportsbet – TV – Free-to-Air
Protestors, a scam victim and Todd Carney are all promoting the Sportsbet app in stereotypical situations.
Number of complaints: 366
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity, 2.5 - Language, Wagering Code.

3. 0081/19 – Universal Pictures – TV – Free-to-Air
Horror movie trailer depicting a family on vacation being terrorised by duplicates of themselves.
Number of complaints: 244
Issues of concern: 2.3 - Violence.

4. 0022/19 – Ultra Tune Australia – TV – Free-to-Air
Four women lose control of their car and land in the ocean. Charlie Sheen invites them onto his boat and lends his phone to one of the women to call Ultra Tune.
Number of complaints: 161
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 - Exploitative or degrading, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity, 2.6 - Health and safety.

5. 0169/19 – Love Honey – TV – Free-to-Air
A montage of visuals depicting couples lovingly embracing each other and portraying excitement on their faces.
Number of complaints: 84
Issues of concern: 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity.

6. 0254/19 – Hanes Brand Inc – TV – Free-to-Air
A man holds a piece of technology in front of men’s crotches to detect heat signatures and to promote ‘ball cooling’ underwear.
Number of complaints: 69
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 - Exploitative or degrading, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity, 2.5 - Language.

7. 0354/19 – Pretty Little Thing – TV – Free-to-Air
A woman walks around the desert wearing an assortment of clothing and swimwear items.
Number of complaints: 58
Issues of concern: 2.2 - Exploitative or degrading, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity.

8. 0301/19 – Roadshow Films – Billboard
The images depict the clown in the film ‘IT’ - first version shows a white face and red lines running over the eyes and covering the mouth and the second features only the clown’s eyes.
Number of complaints: 40
Issues of concern: 2.3 - Violence.

9. 0263/19 – Sportsbet – TV – Free-to-Air
A woman in a pageant holds a phone with the screen to the audience which has the Sportsbet app open and promotes its ease of use. A superimposed graphic saying ‘foolproof’ is stamped over the woman’s neck.
Number of complaints: 31
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 - Exploitative or degrading, Wagering Code.

10. 0264/19– Downtown Brooklyn – Internet/Social/Facebook 
An image of a ‘Reese’s Pieces´ dessert is accompanied by a caption telling people to have their Epipen on hand due to the amount of nuts the desert contains. 
Number of complaints: 29
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or vilification, 2.6 - Health and safety.