Crazy Domains dominates the most complained about ads of 2021 so far

Crazy Domains has topped the list of Ad Standards most complained about advertisements in the first 6 months of 2021, with a whopping 283 complaints making it the runaway leader in terms of complaint volume over the period.

The ad in question breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics for its depiction of public urination. Its tagline was ‘The real world sucks for business, you’re better off online’.

The ad was found to contain “illegal and unhygienic” behaviour, with the panel noting that “public urination is an offence in all states and territories of Australia”, and upheld that the ad breached the code because it contained material “contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety”.

The panel dismissed complaints about discrimination and vilification, as well as complains pertaining to nudity.

Second on the list with 74 complaints was an ad for Aussie Broadband, which received complaints for various iterations of the use of words including ‘freaking’ and ‘bloody’.

Issues raised by the complaints included discrimination and vilification, language, and healthy and safety, however none of the complaints were upheld. The panel agreed with Aussie Broadband that the advertisement did not breach the Code on any grounds.

Rounding out the top 5 were ads by South Australia Police which received 47 complaints, IAG Insurance which received 17 complains and Huddle, which received 16 complaints. All complaints pertaining to these ads were dismissed by the Ad Standards community panel.

The only advertisements outside of Crazy Domains to have had complaints upheld were in motor vehicle advertising. Both had complaints upheld under the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Motor Vehicle Advertising Code for showing unsafe driving practices.

An ad for Kia Automotive Australia, which received 15 complaints and showed three vehicles driving together and simultaneously performing a J turn, was found in breach for depicting unsafe driving and breaking the speed limit.

Kia initially asserted that the J-turn was choreographed by a qualified stunt co-ordinator who communicated with the professional stunt drivers of each vehicle through headsets. The attire of the drivers was also noted to reinforce the message that they were professionals.

After Ad Standards upheld the complaints against the ad, Kia responded by pulling the ad from air.

Meanwhile, an ad for Volvo, which received 12 complaints, featured a woman falling asleep at the wheel of her car, only for the car to automatically engaged its ‘Lane Keeping Aid’, was also found to be in breach.

After initially responding that the ad was made in Sweden and filmed under controlled conditions, as well as that there ‘are no laws regulating driver fatigue,’ Volvo then modified the scene.

In total, the top 10 most complained about ads received 496 complaints during the first half of the year, which is the lowest recorded in the history of Ad Standards for the first half of the year. Across that time, seventeen advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn.

Three of the top ten were found to be in beach of the AANA’s advertising Codes and Initiatives.

Ad Standards has received a total of 2,245 complaints to 30 June, with 639 of these contributing to the 162 cases assessed by the Community Panel under one or more of the advertising Codes and Initiatives.

The top 10 most complained about ads of 2021 so far: 

1. 0122/21 – Crazy Domains – TV – Free-to-air

The advertisement depicts a man urinating on a building.
Number of complaints: 283

2. 0089/21 – Aussie Broadband – TV – Free-to-air

There are multiple versions of this advertisement showing people in their gardens using a hose. The words ‘freaking’ and bloody’ are used.
Number of complaints: 74

3. 0075/21 – South Australia Police – TV – Free-to-air

The advertisement follows a young man driving home from a pub. He passes a number of situations consistent with drink driving and in his interior monologue he can be heard calling himself a ‘selfish prick’ for drink-driving.
Number of complaints: 47

4. 0073/21 – IAG Insurance – TV – Free-to-air

The advertisement documents two children’s actions to save the Koalas’ homes after discovering a number of trees have been marked for removal.
Number of complaints: 17

5. 0109/21 – Huddle – TV – Free-to-air

There are three versions of this advertisement, two featuring a woman and her niece and one featuring a woman by a pool.
Number of complaints: 16

6. 0138/21 – Universal Pictures – TV – Free-to-air

There are two versions of this advertisement promoting the movie “The Conjuring – The Devil Made Me Do It”.
Number of complaints: 15

7. 0036/21 – KIA Automotive Australia – TV – Free-to-air

The advertisement shows three vehicles driving together and simultaneously performing a J turn.
Number of complaints: 15

8. 0044/21 – Volvo Car Australia – TV – Free-to-air

The advertisement features various scenes of parents running around after children. It then shows a woman falling asleep behind the wheel of a car and the car automatically engaging the Lane Keeping Aid.
Number of complaints: 12

9. 0103/21 – eHarmony – TV – Free-to-air

The television advertisement has four versions featuring various couples.
Number of complaints: 9

10. 0078/21 – Reckitt Benckiser – TV – Free-to-air

The television ad depicts people using water in various different situations, with a voiceover stating facts about water usage in Australia and the #FinishWaterWaste initiative.
Number of complaints: 8


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