“Bangers”, “Boobs” and walking tongues – The top 10 most complained about ads of 2013

A child slapping their mother, ‘kidults’ going to nightclubs in glittering dresses and a man with a detaching tongue that talks back to him are among the most complained about advertisements of 2013.

Also in the mix were ads with emphysema sufferers struggling to breathe, speeding drivers and colloquial references to women’s breasts.

The Advertising Standards Bureau reported that a television advertisement for Tooheys Extra Dry beer was the most complained about for the year, with 66 reported complaints. It features a man at a house party, and his mouth detaches from his face and jumps onto a bench to talk to him. The complaints were dismissed after review.

Next was Vodafone’s ‘kidults’ in nightclubs advertisement, which tallied 42 official complaints, but again the complaints were dismissed after review by the board.

The Bonds billboard, which turned the logo for the word Bonds into “Boobs” came third at 36 complaints, and the complaints were also dismissed.

Other companies to cop the wrath of consumers for their ads were Yellow Brick Road Super, in which the ad featured a child in a pram slapping a woman, which registered 32 complaints.

An ad for Nissan which showed a couple speeding through the streets to hospital, with the woman pretending she was pregnant also sparked criticism.

Chrysler Australia, Windsor Smith, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency and Target, which had a fashion designer call breasts “bangers” were also in the top 10 list for complaints.

ASB chief executive officer Fiona Jolly said the range of complaints this year was broader than previous years, however the number of complains for individual ads was lower.

“In recent years there have been advertisements which have resulted in up to 220 complaints. Last year’s most complained about ad received more than double the complaints than this year’s number one,” she said.

Jolly said the range of complaints included ads being distasteful, stomach turning, vile and disgusting.

Some consumers commented that the ads, such as the ad for Tooheys made them turn away from the television screen, and they said the ad would entirely put them off the product.

Other issues included irrelevance, inappropriateness, disrespect and demonstrations of unsafe driving. Domestic violence, animal cruelty, sexualisation of women and emotional unease were all commented on.

Two of the top 10 most complained about ads breached the AANA Code of Ethics, while eight of the most complained about ads were on television, while two were outdoor billboards.

Most ads on the list were cleared by the board, but overall about 60 were found to have breached the Code this year. Almost 455 advertisements were considered by the Board.

Top 10 List:

  1. Lion (Toohey’s Draft). Complaints: 66. Dismissed.
  2. Vodafone Network. Complaints: 42. Dismissed.
  3. Bonds Industries. Complaints: 36. Dismissed.   
  4. Yellow Brick Road Super. Complaints: 32. Upheld – Modified or Discontinued.
  5. Nissan Motor Co (Aust). Complaints: 31. Upheld – Modified or Discontinued.
  6. Chrysler Australia. Complaints: 24. Dismissed.
  7. Windsor Smith. Complaints: 24. Dismissed.
  8. Australian National Preventive Health Agency. Complaints: 23. Dismissed.
  9. Target Australia. Complaints: 23. Dismissed.
  10. SSAA. Complaints: 22. Dismissed.


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