The most complained about ads of 2012

In this roundup from the Encore and Mumbrella Annual, we take a look at the seven most complained about ads from the last 12 months.

1. Johnson & Johnson ‘Vagina’

No blue liquid and ludicrous euphemisms in this tampon ad. Just the word vagina. Oh, and discharge. One complaint to the Ad Standards Board read: “I find it highly disgusting that they mention any fact at all about the discharge between periods on national television.” The only ad to dare to use the V word in recent history was the only one this year to beat 100 complaints to the ad watchdog. Sense prevailed and the complaints were dismissed.

2. Red Bull ‘Jesus’

Jesus walked on water. God’s work? A miracle? Or because Red Bull gave him wings? Didn’t go down well with Christians, this. But the ad was allowed to stand.

3. Libra Tampons ‘Drag Queen’

An ad by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne featuring a woman engaged in a tit-for-tat with a drag queen was voluntarily pulled by Libra after outrage from the transgender community.

4. New Idea Magazine ‘Amish’

An ad for New Idea portrays the magazine as a forbidden pleasure among the Amish community, apparently causing one woman to reveal her leg.

5. Lynx ‘Balls’

The only ad in this list to get banned (complaints against a shorter, edited version were dismissed). Ageism is what did it. At the end of the TV show-style ad hosted by Sophie Monk, an elderly man produced two deflated medicine balls and asked: “Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody’s played with them for years.”

6. Pilot Pen ‘Leak’

A spelling mistake – ‘leek’ is spelt ‘leak’ – in a handwritten recipe handed down through the generations causes a man to urinate in his soup.

7. Kimberly-Clark ‘Puppy’

This ad featured a labrador puppy sniffing peoples’ behinds, introducing the idea Australians aren’t good at wiping their bums.


mumbrella annual 2012


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