Complaints against ads reaches record high with discrimination the biggest issue

ASBThe number of complaints submitted to the Ad Standards Bureau last year nearly doubled to a record 5,735 with discrimination the most touchy-subject for the public, the ad watchdog’s 2014 Review of Operations report has revealed.

Complaints against 515 ads were considered by the board, with another 30 withdrawn from circulation by advertisers before it got to that stage. Of these 62 were found to be in breach of the AANA Code of Ethics, with only three advertisers refusing to pull their ads when a complaint was upheld.

Discrimination and vilification accounted for 27.61 per cent of complaints, with the “ick” factor in ads created with the category of “other” responsible for 16.61 per cent of complaints.

Three ads for MyPlates were in the top ten most complained about ads for 2014with 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.

On issues of discrimination the board upheld complaints against Actron Air for negatively depicting an Asian man and upheld a complaint against a Devondale ad for a demeaning portrayal of an Asian man.

Sex, sexuality and nudity was third with 14.27 per cent of complaints while the most complained about category last year was automotive, accounting for 20.5 per cent of all complaints.

Source: ASB 2014 Review of Operations report

Source: ASB 2014 Review of Operations report

Toiletry product categories recorded a tripling in percentage of complaints from 2013 to stand at 11.46 per cent of complaints last year while alcohol ads saw complaints decrease from 7.84 per cent in 2013 to 1.30 per cent last year.

Source: ASB 2014 Review of Operations report

Source: ASB 2014 Review of Operations report

The majority of complaints originated in NSW (37.63 per cent), with the highest number of complaints overall coming from people aged 40-54 (31 per cent), while the majority of complainants were female (63.84 per cent).

Consistent with previous years, 77.72 per cent of complaints related to ads shown on television, while billboards attracted the second highest amount of complaints for any medium (5.32 per cent). Transport came in at third place (4.09 per cent), while only 2.08 per cent of complaints were for internet advertising.

Complaints against print ads posted dropped from 2013, down to 1.58 per cent from 1.91 per cent, while complaints against radio ads were also down from 3.57 per cent to 1.80 per cent of the total.

Of the complaints which sent ruled on by the ASB board TV spots were still responsible for nearly half (44.77 per cent), with transport ads in at second place (7.89 per cent).

Miranda Ward

ASB chief Fiona Jolly will be speaking at next week’s Mumbrella 360 Conference on how the ASB board reaches decisions on complaints. Click the banner below for more details.


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