Australia’s 10 Most Complained About Ads for 2014

Banned-AdsWe all have New Years traditions, one of mine is a little nerdy. I love the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau‘s annual list of most complained about ads.

If you’re not familiar with the Advertising Standards Bureau, it’s an industry body that self-regulates advertising in Australia. It looks at the content to see if the claims are accurate, that violence is excluded that no person is being objectified, etc. They also share their findings. It’s all about transparency, right? Transparency and entertainment.

One thing I noticed on leaving Australia is how much Australians love to whine. I’ll probably even get complaints about using the American word there. OK, whinge. The Advertising Standards Bureau is obliged to investigate an advertisement on a single complaint, and from looking at what tops the list, they get my sympathy. It’s like the Banned Books list, here in the US. The complaints are hilarious.

On a serious note, some ads deserve the bans, such as this condom ad from 2013. The link is safe to click; the video is embedded in that page.

OK, back to the funny ones. None of this year’s top 10 actually breached the advertising code – not one. They all feature poor taste, but, unfortunately, that’s not illegal. Or in this case, ban-able. The “winner”, Ashley Madison, was complained about 481 times, also making it the most complained about ad ever. The Advertising Standards Bureau also noted in their press release that of the few ads which were in breach and banned, they each received less than five complaints. Good to see Australian morals are stronger than ethics.

Here’s the list. What do you think of Australia’s 10 most complained about ads? Should they be banned? Funny? Poor taste? Have one that should be banned? Share in the comments.

Australia’s 10 Most Complained About Ads for 2014

1. Ashley Madison – Avid Life
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 481

2. My Plates
TV ad featuring a man repeatedly passing wind in a car.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 250

3. Menulog
TV ad featuring a Da Vinci character painting the last supper.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 228

4. My Plates
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 206

5. Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd (could be the same as number nine, sorry unable to check)
TV ad highlighting embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 185

6. Ultra Tune Australia
TV ad featuring two women wearing rubber visiting a tyre store.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 181

7. My Plates (very similar to number two)
TV ad featuring a man picking his nose and wiping it on a car door, his finger is pixelated.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 180

8. Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Billboard pictures a horse lying on its side and the words ‘Is the party really worth it?’
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 152

9. Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd (shortened ad included)
TV ad highlighting different embarrassing menstrual experiences.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 146

10. Meat and Livestock Australia
TV ad featuring Sam Kekovich promoting the consumption of lamb on Australia Day.
Dismissed. Number of complaints: 80

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