Ad Standards publishes top 5 most complained about ads in 2022

Only one of the top five was found to be in breach of ad standards guidelines

Only one of Australia’s top five most complained about ads for 2022 was found to be in breach of the rules, latest Ad Standards annual review shows.

The regulatory group this week published its annual most complained about ads list for this year, highlighting the community’s biggest issues of concern.

Top of the list was the PointsBet free-to-air TV ad featuring athlete, Shaquille O'Neal, and the Inspired Unemployed speaking in exaggerated ‘Aussie’ accents. The main concern raised was discrimination or vilification, with 42 members of the public submitting complaints. However, these concerns were dismissed in September.

“This particular ad elicited a strong response from some viewers who were concerned that it was offensive and insulting to Australians, particularly young men,” Ad Standards executive director, Richard Bean, said. “While the Ad Standards Community Panel acknowledged these concerns, they found the ad contained self-deprecating humour which would be seen by most to celebrate Australians rather than ridicule them. It was therefore found not in breach of the rules.”

Second on the top five and the only advertisement subjected to amendment was Nimble Australia’s FTA TV ad. This featured a man named ‘Bill Shock’ whose mouth remains wide-open throughout the spot. Again, the community concern was discrimination or vilification.

This concern was upheld after investigation, with the ad found to breach Section 2.1 of the Code. The decision resulted in modifications to the advertisement as well as Nimble’s commitment to adjusting its marketing strategy to veer away from still images of Bill Shock with his mouth open.

Third in the top five this year was another FTA ad, this time from Uber Eats, featuring Paris Hilton and the Irwin family. The concern specifically was violence as a result of a scene suggesting a snake has eaten Hilton’s chihuahua. The concerns were dismissed.

Similarly, concerns around a Gotham City House of Sin billboard ad, which featured a woman wearing black lingerie and gained 21 complaints relating to exploitation or degrading sexual imagery, were dismissed.

Rounding out the top five was a Universal Pictures FTA TV ad promoting the film, The Black Phone, which received 18 complaints for violence. These were also dismissed.

Overall, Ad Standards received thousands of complaints and investigated more than 250 ads in 2022 that raised issues under the advertising industry codes. In total, 50 ads were found in breach of the rules.

“We’ve seen a high proportion of complaints this year about advertisers using sexual appeal or violence in their marketing campaigns which some members of the community have found offensive and unacceptable,” Bean commented. “We have also acted on a number of complaints that raised concerns about discrimination being depicted in advertising.”  

Ads seen on free-to-air TV prompted the highest number of complaints again this year, followed by Instagram and TV on-demand services. 

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page


Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts



CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...


The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Great Sharing thoughts.It is really helps to define marketing strategies. After all good digital marketing plan leads to brand awareness...

Paul F

Driving digital marketing effectiveness

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in