Most of Australia’s controversial ads in the clear

Only three of the ten most controversial advertisements of the year had the complaints upheld, the Advertising Standards Bureau has revealed.  

The most complained about ad of the year, created by The Brand Shop for Kotex U tampons, featured a beaver keeping a young woman company. It received 185 complaints which were dismissed by the ASB board.


Also in the clear was the second most complained-about ad, for Domino’s pizza, featuring the character Many Toppings, with the catch phrase “Supercalafreakinawesome”. The 145 complaints that it sounded like “frickin” rather than “freakin” were also dismissed.


ami_longer_lasting_sex1The Advanced Medical Institute’s “longer last sex” billboard drew the third highest number of complaints, with 110, and when the ASB reconsidered the issue, it was eventually ruled against, which generated major press coverage for the AMI.

Next came an ad for Ingham’s chicken,which drew more than 100 complaints from people unhappy with its tongue-in-cheek suggestion that if you don’t like chicken there’s something wrong with you.


Meanwhile, a powerful anti-smoking ad for Quit Victoria from The Campaign Palace, which featured a crying child at a railway station who had lost his mother, drew 65 complaints and was also cleared.


The next ad to be banned was Smart advertising’s work for the relaunch of Coca Cola’s energy drink Mother. It featured violence towards the scientists who created the original formulation.


Also upheld were the 45 complaints against a graphic pamphlet produced by the anti-abortion Tell The Truth Coalition.

However, after a similar number of complaints about Virgin Mobile’s “Go Topless” TVC, this ad was cleared, as was one for the Motorola Razr phone featuring a couple fighting at a railway station.

Fiona Jolly, the ASB’s CEO, said the total number of complaints was higher in 2008 than in 2007, as was the number of ads complained about. She added:

“In 2009 we will continue to work with advertisers and other industry bodies to maintain a healthy balance between the rights of industry to advertise its products and the protection of consumers against inappropriate or offensive content.”


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

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



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