2013 – The most complained about ads of the year


The Tooheys Extra Dry ‘repay your mouth’ campaign which launched in November has had around 66 complaints submitted to the ad watchdog.  The campaign was created by BMF, who also created the infamous ‘Tongue’ ad, and is built on the idea that “being a mouth can be a thankless job” and tells consumers it is time people repaid their mouths for the “years of mouth abuse endured”, suggesting that one way to repay them is with “the clean crisp taste of Tooheys Extra Dry”. One complaint to the ASB read: “It is horror sense to see a face without a mouth in such way. The spitting out of the mouth and the sexualised nature of the toe sucking and kissing is an objectification of the body. The suggestion that the mouth then needs cleansed after sucking and kissing the toes of a women is degrading in implying the uncleanliness of the woman’s body.” The ASB dismissed the complaints.


Vodafone’s brand re-launch campaign featuring digitally created ‘kidult’ characters, who according to Vodafone “are adults who embrace their inner child” notched up around 42 complaints to the Advertising Standards Board. A complaint to the ASB read: “Given the recent rise in paedophile reports, this is in extremely bad taste.” The watchdog ultimately dismissed the complaints.


The Bonds billboard campaign, created by Clemenger BBDO, in which the clothing company switched it’s logo out for a similar looking one which read ‘BOOBS’ garnered around 35 complaints. One complaint to the Ad Standards Watchdog read: “I am concerned that the ad is encouraging children, teenagers and adults to use this term inappropriately, objectifying such a personal, private and beautiful part of women’s bodies.” The Ad Standards Board dismissed the complaints saying “the word ‘boobs’ is not strong or obscene and is not inappropriate”.Bonds Boobs



While it wasn’t the most complained about ad of the year, this spot for Mark Bouris’ financial services company Yellow Brick Road was one of the few to get banned with it’s depiction of violence landing on the wrong side of the ad watchdog. The ad, created by DCB Advertising, features people being slapped with the message “Give someone a super slap”. It received around 32 complaints, with one reading: “The child slapping his carer’s face, a male slapping a woman, is to myself and my family abuse of women and should not be shown on television”.


This spot from Nissan is one of the few occasions in the history of the Ad Standards Board that the same ad has effectively been banned twice. Nissan was forced to pull the Pulsar ad after changes it made following an initial set of complaints were insufficient. The ad features a young couple racing through the streets against the clock to a hospital. The woman appears to be pregnant but reveals she is wearing a fake bump. The second version of the ad saw even more of a response than the first with the ASB receiving around 31 complaints after fielding about 20 for the first.


An ad for Chrysler’s Jeep Compass featuring a woman and her dog attending obedience training was one of the most complained about ads during 2013, receiving about 24 in total. Viewers were seemingly angered by the actions of the randy dog in the spot. A complaint to the ASB read: “I don’t think little kids should be watching a dog humping a man’s leg.”

7. Windsor Smith Pty Ltd
Windsor Smith’s ad received approximately 24 complaints and was dismissed and slammed as ‘sexist’ and ‘offensive’ as the women are ‘portrayed as sexual objects.’ The ad features fully clothed men modelling the shoe range and women in white lingerie dancing around them, which includes a close up of a female’s backside.


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