Media releases

Top 10 most complained about ads 2018

In a record year, a gambling advertisement showing a man naked from the waist up presumably ‘manscaping’ is now the most complained about ad in Ad Standards’ history.

The previous most complained about ad was in 2014 for an online dating website, aimed at married people looking to have an affair, with 481 people lodging complaints against the ad.

Nearly 800 complaints were received about the 2018 manscaping ad, reflecting ongoing community concerns about sexuality and nudity, violence, and health and safety in advertising.

The new record second place is a TV ad showing a woman aggressively hitting a piñata in front of a group of children. The 715 community complaints received raised issues of concern about the depiction of anger and violence especially in front of children.

“It’s been the biggest year yet for Ad Standards, with two of the most complained about advertisements in 20 years, and stats that show the community understands the advertising codes protect community standards and that Ad Standards acts on their concerns,” said Ad Standards Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fiona Jolly.

The new figures from Australia’s independent advertising complaints adjudicator, Ad Standards, show a record number of over 6,600 complaints received in 2018, with a third of these related to advertisements in the top 10 list.

In 2018, four of the 10 most complained about advertisements were upheld by the Ad Standards Community Panel. These were found to breach the AANA Code of Ethics and were removed by the advertiser.

This included two advertisements for films with violent or horror content. 

“All of the ads in the top 10 list are from free-to-air television which highlights the importance for advertisers to ensure their content is appropriate for the relevant audience,” said Ms Jolly.

While community concern about violence was prominent in the list, other issues covered under the AANA Code of Ethics were also raised in complaints received about the top 10 ads in the list. The top three community concerns in 2018 were violence, sex/sexuality/nudity, and discrimination or vilification in advertising.

“Sex and discrimination or vilification are consistently some of the most complained about issues. This year shows increased community concern about discrimination across gender and disability,” Ms Jolly said.

To help advertisers ensure ads comply with the advertising codes, Ad Standards now provides a copy advice service online through their website.

1. 0116/18 – Sportsbet – TV – Free-to-air
A man is seen naked from the waist up and appears to be manscaping.
Upheld
Number of complaints: 793
Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 – Exploitative or degrading, 2.3 – Violence and 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity

2. 0113/18 – iSelect – TV – Free-to-air
A woman aggressively hits a piñata in front of a group of children.
Upheld
Number of complaints: 716
Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.3 – Violence and 2.6 – Health and safety

3. 0404/18 – Hanes Brands – TV – Free-to-air
Balls in the shape of breasts are used as sports balls.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 135
Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 – Exploitative or degrading, 2.3 – Violence, 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity

4. 0026/18 – Ultra Tune – TV – Free-to-air
Three women driving to a costume party crash a car avoiding a tiger on the road, Mike Tyson appears to help.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 134
Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.2 – Exploitative or degrading, 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity and 2.6 – Health and safety

5. 0458/18 – Universal Pictures – TV – Free-to-air
A trailer for the film ’Halloween’.
Upheld
Number of complaints: 97
Issues of concern: 2.3 – Violence

6. 0494/18 – BCF – TV – Free-to-air
A group of people participate in boating, camping and fishing activities while singing the BCF jingle.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 93
Issue of concern: 2.3 – Violence, 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity, 2.5 – Language, 2.6 – Health and safety

7. 0427/18 – Specsavers – TV – Free-to-air
A fictional medical research company asks subjects how much they would sell their eyes for.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 73
Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.3 – Violence

8. 0047/18 – Youfoodz – TV – Free-to-air
A couple discusses the times and place they ‘do it’ it is then revealed they are talking about eating Youfoodz meals.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 49
Issues of concern: 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity and 2.5 – Language

9. 0030/18 – Yum Restaurants International – TV – Free-to-air
A couple is shown a drawing their child completed of ‘Mum and Dad naked wrestling’, the parents then suggest going to KFC.
Dismissed
Number of complaints: 46
Issues of concern: 2.4 – Sex/sexuality/nudity

10. 0434/18 – Sony Pictures Releasing – TV – Free-to-air
A trailer for the film ‘Venom’.
Upheld
Number of complaints: 43
Issues of concern: 2.3 – Violence