Moneysupermarket.com “strutting man” advert is most-complained about
An advert featuring a man strutting down a street in hotpants and high heels received the most complaints in 2015, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has revealed.
The Moneysupermarket.com ad attracted 1,513 complaints, with viewers citing its “overtly sexual” content.
The ASA did not uphold the complaints.
Chief executive Guy Parker said matters of offence can “grab the headlines” but most of their work is focused on “tackling misleading advertising”.
“Distasteful not offensive”
The body acknowledged some viewers might have considered the TV and web advert, featuring a man called Dave dancing to Don”t Cha by the Pussycat Dolls, to be “distasteful”.
But the price comparison site commercial was not judged to be offensive or in breach of the advertising code.
A company spokesman said the public feedback to the ad was “overwhelmingly positive”.
Three adverts for hotel website Booking.com, where the word “booking” was seen to be used in the place of a swear word, were the second, fourth and seventh most-complained about ads of the year – with 683, 407 and 201 complaints respectively.
The complaints were not upheld, with the ASA saying “it was a light-hearted play on words that couldn”t be mistaken for an actual swear word”.
The third most-complained about ad was a campaign for online payment site Paypal, which showed two children concerned their parents had not been shopping for Christmas presents.
It received 464 complaints from people who “expressed concern that the ad revealed the truth about Father Christmas”. They were not upheld but Paypal independently changed the scheduling of the ad.
In fifth place was a poster campaign advertising a Protein World weight-loss product with the slogan: “Are you beach body ready?”.
The poster, showing a woman in a bikini attracted 380 complaints, and the ASA told the company that due to “concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims” it could not appear in the same format again.
The ASA concluded the ad, which was defaced in Tube stations and sparked a petition calling for it to be banned, was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence, however.
Mr Parker said: “Our top 10 for 2015 will no doubt get people talking about whether the ads are or aren”t offensive, but there are important issues at stake here.
“Advertisers must take care not to cause serious or widespread offence, but we don”t play a numbers game.
“And while matters of offence can grab the headlines, the bulk of our work is the less glamorous task of tackling misleading advertising. That”s why we”re taking a more proactive approach to address the issues which affect consumers the most before complaints need to be made.”