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Top Five Most Complained-about Advertisements of All Time

Posted on the 31 May 2012 by Periscope
Top five most complained-about advertisements of all time

KFC were responsible for offending the most people. Photo credit: Marufish

The background

To celebrate the 50th birthday of the Advertising Standards Agency, the body has produced a list of adverts that received the most complaints from the public. Whilst nudity and animal cruelty unsurprisingly feaure on the list, it seems that what the British public find most offensive is bad table manners.

Bad taste is simply unacceptable

Ross Clark of The Times said the list is “a fascinating insight into the British public, or rather into that section of the public that likes to complain about things.” Clark said the list demonstrates that what really gets Brits’ goat is “poor taste.” “Rip off the British public en masse and you can expect a small trickle of complaints, but gawd help you if you dare show a furry animal suffering a simulated mishap on prime time TV: No 3 on the list is a Paddy Power advert from 2010 that showed a blind footballer accidentally kicking a cat into a tree.”

The top five most complained-about adverts

KFC’s mouthful of an ad

Fast-food chain KFC’s 2004 ad featuring call-centre workers talking with their mouths stuffed full of zinger chicken salad, received 1,671 complaints from the public. Complaints mostly centered on the encouragement of bad manners in children.

Auction World hammered

Television shopping channel Auction World had their broadcasting license revoked after 1,313 people objected to poor customer service, misleading guide prices and delivery delays in one of their ads.

Paddy Power aims to shock

Bookmaker Paddy Power’s infamous blind football ad was doubly offensive: the images of a blind football player booting a cat across the pitch showed both animal cruelty and offended the blind. It drew 1,313 complaints in 2010.

The Christian Party offends atheists

The slogan “There definitely is a God, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life” was meant to grab public attention: and this it did in scores, with 1,204 people complaining to the ASA.

Top five most complained-about advertisements of all time

British Safety Council riles Roman Catholics

Pope John Paul II in a hard hat. All well and good, although this leaflet for National Condom Week offended Roman Catholics as it carried the slogan “The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt always wear a condom.”

Top five most complained-about advertisements of all time


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