The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) annual report shows an increase of 3% in complaints since 2016, with most of the 603 complaints relating to television ads (37%) ahead of website ads (27%).
A total of 55% of complaints said the ads were misleading, well ahead of a lack of social responsibility (23%). A quarter of complaints were about therapeutic commercials followed by food and beverage ads (15%).
The report says, in all complaints, 40% went no further, 37% of ads were removed or changed, and for the remainder the ASA either did not uphold the complaint or there was no jurisdiction.
“In my view, most advertisers are keen to do the right thing – there is no long-term value in misleading or offending potential customers,” says ASA Chief Executive Hilary Souter. “However, advertising is a creative business and boundaries – or standards - are pushed from time to time.
“In the last two years we have invested significant resource in setting the standards.”
Most complained about ads (all TV) of 2017:
- Frucor Suntory. In the V Energy ad a construction worker on a building site is distracted by two miniaturised people, with one jumping into wet concrete. The worker drinks a ‘V’ before picking up a nail gun and firing it at them. Eighteen complaints raised two issues about safety.
- Village Roadshow. The trailer for the movie Annabelle 2 showed various clips from the film, including dark scenes of scary dolls, children levitating and being thrown across the room and dragged away.
- Reckitt Benkiser. The ad for V.I. Poo toilet spray features a Hollywood-style star attending a film premiere. She says “to avoid embarrassment I give every toilet the V. I. Poo treatment. V.I. Poo forms a protective layer trapping the icky smell of your devil’s doughnuts.” Complainants said the advertisement was inappropriate, offensive and disgusting.
- Spark. This featured a young boy in various situations without his father around Father’s Day. The next morning the young boy takes breakfast to his mother with a card that said “Happy Father’s Day Mum”. Complainants said the ad perpetuated derogatory stereotypes about absent fathers.
- ANZ Bank. The ad shows one child playfully punching the other on the arm. Complainants were concerned that it condoned violence.