News

Affairs website sparks most complaints in 2014 as ASB defends ruling policy

The top 10 most complained about adverts of 2014 have been revealed by the Advertising Standards Bureau, with a website encouraging married people to have affairs way out in front.

The advert for Ashley Madison, which saw married men singing ‘I’m looking for someone other than my wife’, sparked 418 people to lodge complaints, the most for a single ad since 1998. It was way ahead of MyPlates in second, whose advert showing a man breaking wind in a car drew 250 complaints.

MyPlates took the dubious honour of having three ads in the top 10 with its spot of a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door attracting 206 complaints in fourth place while a pixilated version of the same ad was down in seventh place with 180 complaints.

The three MyPlates ads attracted a total of 636 complaints. The company told Mumbrella in July that the number of complaints “rocked our socks off” with chief executive Daryl Head claiming they were simply designed to be “funny”.

In third place was an advert from Menulog featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper as Jesus and his disciples voted on what to eat. It prompted complaints from 228 people.

Despite a record number of complaints to the ASB during the year – 5600 – not one of the top 10 were found to have breached any code.

The figure was way above the previous record of 4,044, set in 2006.

“Preliminary stats show that around 5600 complaints about advertisements were received in 2014, and many of these complaints were due to uncomfortable scenes in advertisements,” ASB chief executive Fiona Jolly said.

Jolly said growing awareness of the ASB was one reason for the number of complaints.

“Also significant is that although we received a record number of complaints, the actual number of ads complained about isn’t any higher than usual,” she said. “We received complaints about 552 ads in 2014, an increase from last year but still less than the 595 ads in 2009.”

Of the ads found to breach the Code in 2014, most received fewer than five complaints.

Jolly defended the fact that no ad in the top 10 was found to have breached regulations.

“While people may not wish to see ‘ick-factor’ images of nose-picking or farting on TV, or about dating sites for married people, the content of these advertisements do not breach the Codes,” she explained.

“When the Board considers an advertisement, they can only consider the content of the advertisement, not the product being advertised, and can only consider the specific sections of the Code of Ethics.

“Our stats reveal that complaints this year were boosted by a number of ‘big ticket’ ads, with the 10 most complained about ads this year making up over 35 per cent of total complaint numbers.”

The top 10

1. Ashley Madison – Avid Life
TV ad featuring  married men singing ‘I’m looking for someone other than my wife’.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 481

2. My Plates
TV ad featuring a man repeatedly passing wind in a car.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 250

3. Menulog
TV ad featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 228

4. My Plates
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 206

5. Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd
TV ad highlighting embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 185

6. Ultra Tune Australia
TV ad featuring two women wearing rubber visiting a tyre store.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 181

7. 0281/14 My Plates
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door, his finger is pixelated.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 180

8. Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Billboard pictures a horse lying on its side and the words ‘Is the party really worth it?’
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 152

dead horse billboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd
TV ad highlighting different embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 146

10. Meat and Livestock Australia
TV ad featuring Sam Kekovich promoting the consumption of lamb on Australia Day.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 80

Most complained about ads since 1998

1. Ashley Madison – Avid Life (2014)
TV ad featuring a married men singing ‘I’m looking for someone other than my wife’.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 481

2. Nando’s Australia Pty Ltd (2007)
TV ad featuring a woman in a business suit describes how she can’t afford to have cravings at work, she is then shown in a g-string and pole dancing.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 359

3. GASP Denim (2009)
Five images of a young topless woman wearing different pairs of tight-fitting jeans
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 297

4. Stuart Alexander and Co (2006)
TV ad featuring a man’s nipples get longer as he eats Mentos and he walks around town using them to do various things.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 283.

5. Advanced Medical Institute (2007)
This outdoor advertisement features red words on a yellow background reading ‘want longer lasting sex?’
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 265

6. My Plates (2014)
TV ad featuring a man repeatedly passing wind in a car.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 250

7. 0178/14 Menulog (2014)
TV ad featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 228

8. Advanced Medical Institute (2010)
A woman is trying to reach for a jar in a cupboard. She calls to her husband to help. He opens his robe and she looks over him with awe. She then appears to stand on his erect penis to reach the jar.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 227

9. Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (2011)
Billboard with the words ‘Rip & Roll’ written in large letters across the centre, with an image of a red condom in its wrapper and two men: one man is embracing the other man from behind while holding a red condom wrapper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 222

10. Advanced Medical Institute (2005)
TV ad showing two men in tuxedos standing behind grand piano – they drop pants and undies and start playing the piano with their penises.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 217

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.