Television’s most complained about advertisements this year

Moneysupermarket.com's 'dance-off' advert (Advertising Standards Authority)
Moneysupermarket.com's 'dance-off' advert (Advertising Standards Authority)

Adverts featuring a twerking businessman in high heels, a lesbian kissing scene and a mother telling her son about his dead father’s favourite McDonald’s burger have angered viewers the most so far this year.

The Moneysupermarket.com ‘dance-off’ ads featuring businessman Dave wearing denim cut-offs and heels attracted the most complaints – 455 – of any campaign in any medium, with viewers objecting that it was offensive and overtly sexual, possibly homophobic and having the potential to encourage hate crimes.

Match.com’s ad showing a woman removing her female’s partner’s top and passionately kissing her drew the second highest number of complaints between January and June at 293.

However the volume of complaints did not lead to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning the ads, ruling neither was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

We've published our latest batch of rulings https://t.co/dbGYsX8oPm

Find out about the ads that have prompted complaints and our decisions. — ASA (@ASA_UK) September 27, 2017

McDonald’s swiftly pulled its poorly received campaign featuring a mother helping her son grieve for his father while sitting in one of the chain’s restaurants, but not before viewers lodged 255 complaints that it exploited child bereavement to sell fast food.

The ASA later decided an investigation was not needed.

The three ads helped television campaigns to draw a total of 5,172 complaints, the most of any medium in the first half of this year. Online ads were a close second with 4,062 complaints, although more individual online ads drew complaints than in any other medium.

The overall total number of complaints in the first half of this year is below that of last year, although the high number in 2016 was mainly due to three Moneysupermarket ads attracting more than 2,500 complaints between them.

While the number of complaints about TV ads has fallen by 33% compared to the same period last year, the number of cases about TV ads is broadly the same.

In total, the ASA received 13,131 complaints – 19.8% fewer than last year – about 9,486 ads in the first six months of this year.

It amended or banned 3,034 ads over the six months, up 88% compared to the first half of 2016 – itself a record year.

The new figures show that men continue to complain more about ads than women, with men lodging 7,729 complaints compared with 5,031 by women.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “We’re spending more time online, but the mass audience of TV ads means they continue to generate the most complaints.

“Whatever the issue and whatever the medium, we should all be able to trust the ads we see and hear. If an ad is wrong, we’re here to put it right.”

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