Most complained about advertisements for 2015 (so far…)

Most complained about advertisements for 2015 (so far…)


The Advertising Standards Bureau yesterday revealed the top 10 most-complained about advertisements so far in 2015.

The annual list shows a Holden ad featuring a child saying “bloody” has been complained about more than another encouraging adultery, with man-on-man kissing complaints making the list as well.

Only two of the top 10 complaints have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Board, being an Ashley Maddison TV advertisement and a Victorian Hearing advertisement featuring a woman with a prawn behind her ear featuring the tag line “hearing aids are ugly”.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, advertising expert and Melbourne University senior lecturer, told SmartCompany ultimately the Advertising Standards Board doesn’t have the power to pull these ads down, describing the board as a “toothless tiger”.

As advertising is self-regulated in every democratic country around the world, the board does have some influence though, however Rosewarne stresses it’s very minimal.

“There is some regulation around adult content including time restraints and billboard locations.”

With more than 2,700 complaints being made to the Advertising Standards board, coming across a valid complaint can sometimes become difficult.

 “An ad has merit if it presses on hot topics that are already established in the [Australian] culture as irritating certain pockets of people.”

Given some of the top ten complained about ads have 21 people complaining about them, from a pool of 23 million Australian residents, Rosewarne stresses these complaints do not accurately reflect the views of all Australians.

Here are the top ten complained about ads so far in 2015:


1. Holden ad featuring man complaining about “bloody caravaners”.

Number of complaints: 161

Sample complaint: “I’m offended by the use of swearing in the ad by the parent which is then repeated by the young child.”


2. Ashley Maddison ad featuring men singing about “looking for someone other than my wife”.

Number of complaints: 138

Sample complaint: ‘If men want to visit such websites that’s their choice but to target married men to entice them into adultery is uncalled for. This advertisement has the potential to destroy families and break up marriages it should not be allowed on TV no matter what time of day it is.”


3. Stan ad referring to a cat on as a “big pussy”

Number of complaints: 66

Sample complaint: “Rebel Wilson uses vulgar references to her genital to which the interviewer asks if she smells and he says he likes it. I find this a vulgasr and offensive play on words which refers to the female genital.”


4. Fantastic Snacks Australia – TV ad shows a wife licking chip flavouring off her husband’s lips

Number of complaints:  63

Sample complaint: All complaints were dismissed by the board for this advertisement.


5. Unilever (Lynx) ad for a hair product which features two men kissing

Number of complaints: 62

Sample complaint: “I am offended because 2 men kissing should not be shown on a TV advertisement especially during prime time television in the break of a kids movie. I find it extremely offensive.”

And rounding out the list….

6. Bingle Insurance ad featuring a computer generated chimpanzee parachuting from a plane.


7.  Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors ad for the upcoming movie ‘Poltergeist’.


8.  The Body Shop poster featuring naked male torso with hemp leaf covering genitals.


9.  Ashley Maddison TV ad featuring women singing about “looking for someone other than my man”.


10. Victorian Hearing ad featuring a picture of a woman with a prawn behind her ear with the tag line “hearing aids are ugly”.



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