Sex, gambling, nudity hit the most complained ads list in 2017

Ultra Tune Australia, Youfoodz, Sportsbet, Neds, Meat & Livestock Austrlaia, Industry Super Fund, AAMI and iSelect made the top ten list

A record number of concerns about wagering advertising along with issues about sex and language topped the Advertising Standards Bureau’s (ASB) list of 'most complained advertisements' in 2017.

Brands including Ultra Tune Australia, Youfoodz, Sportsbet, Neds, Meat & Livestock Australia, Industry Super Fund, AAMI and iSelect all made the top 10 list of 'most complained about' ads. 

“This year the ASB has met the challenge of a record number of complaints being processed in a single year, with over 6000 complaints about advertisements lodged in 2017,” said ASB CEO, Fiona Jolly, in a statement. 

More than 6300 complaints were received by the ASB in 2017, with nearly a third of these (1860) relating to advertisements in the top 10 list. Advertisements about wagering ads topped the list of concerns, as well as inappropriate language by adults (and the depiction of a child who appeared to be using strong language).

“Advertisements with language that people would not like to hear their children repeating will often receive large numbers of complaints - and even more so if the advertisement depicts a child using the bad language,” Jolly explained. 

On the wagering front, Jolly said three of the top ten complained about advertisements were about wagering ads.

“We can see the new Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communication Code brought in last year by the Australian Association of National Advertisers [AANA] has had an impact – with three of the top 10 complained about advertisements about wagering ads,” she said.

“The need for the Code has been demonstrated – with the community taking advantage of the self-regulation system’s ability to adapt to emerging community concerns.” 

Language was the main issue of concern in three advertisements on the list, with the Board finding two in breach of section 2.5 of the AANA Code of Ethics for depicting a child who appeared to be using strong language. Other advertisements in the list raised concerns about issues such as sex, sexuality and nudity and discrimination in advertising.

“The most complained about advertisement for this year raised a number of issues, including under Section 2.2 of the AANA Code of Ethics which covers the use of sexual appeal in an exploitative and degrading manner.

“In this case the Board dismissed complaints, but it shows the continuing concern by the community about the depiction of women in advertising,” Jolly said.

Changes to Section 2.2 of the AANA Code of Ethics will come into effect in March 2018, meaning that there will be a stricter standard around the way advertisers can depict sexualised images of people in advertising.

The 10 most complained about ads 2017


1. Ultra Tune Australia – 0042/17 – TV – Free to air
Two women are driving a car when the muffler falls off and starts a fire. They produce fire extinguishers and attempt to stop the fire, before leaping away as the car explodes.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 359
Issues of concern: 2.1 - Discrimination or Vilification, 2.2 - Exploitative and degrading, 2.4 - Sex/sexuality/nudity and 2.6 - Health and Safety.

2. Youfoodz – 0423/17 – TV – Free to air
A young boy impersonating Gordon Ramsay promotes the Youfoodz range, saying the word 'forkin' twice in the advertisement.
Upheld
No. of complaints: 304
Issues of concern: 2.5 – language

3. Youfoodz – 0466/17 – TV – Free to air
A modified version of the Youfoodz advertisement where the 'forkin' has been beeped out.
Upheld
No. of complaints: 232
Issues of concern: 2.5 – language

4. Sportsbet – 0234/17 – TV – Free to air
The advertisement featured (prominently) Olympian and convicted drug cheat Ben Johnson (1988 games) talking about the "performance enhanced" app and included the line "puts the 'roid' in Android".
Upheld
No. of complaints: 202
Issues of concern: 2.6 - Health and Safety

5. Neds – 0461/17 – TV – Free to air
A man receives a telemarketing call and tells his partner that it is the office and he needs to take the call. He then moves to another room and asks the telemarketer to repeat their pitch while he uses the Ned's app on his mobile phone.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 186
Issues of concern: Wagering Code – 2.8 Excess participation

6. Meat & Livestock Australia – 0406/17 – TV – Free to air
Various religious/mythical leaders/Gods/characters seated around a table enjoying a meal together. The figures include Thor, Aphrodite, Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Ganesha.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 144
Issues of concern: 2.1 Discrimination and Vilification

7. Neds – 0459/17 – TV - Free to air
A client follows up on the lack of progress of work on a house construction site with the site supervisor. The tradesmen on site comment that they are waiting for work to be finished on site by other tradesmen while using their phones.
Upheld
No. of complaints: 139
Issue of concern: Wagering Code – 2.8 Excess participation

8. Industry Super Fund – 0156/17 – TV – Free to air
A girl and her mother locking hens in a hen house before going in to their own home. We then see some foxes watching the hen house before a shadowy figure opens the door to let the foxes in.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 126
Issue of concern: 2.3 Violence

9. AAMI – 0064/17 – TV – Free to air
A family who have broken down on a rural dirt road standing by their caravan with the father talking on their phone describing their location, noticing a sign which says ‘ship creek’.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 96
Issue of concern: 2.5 language

10. iSelect Pty Ltd – 0165/17 – TV – Free to air
A television advertisement which shows a couple in bed. The woman switches her light on and off, each time revealing a different partner.
Dismissed
No. of complaints: 72
Issue of concern: 2.1 Discrimination and Vilification and 2.4 Sex, Sexuality and Nudity

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