The most offensive ads of 2018

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Ad Standards is a part of an organisation (which also includes the Community Panel and the Industry Jury) that receives and reviews complaints about advertising in Australia. Despite what many people believe, it’s not a government body, but rather, is governed by a board and funded by a levy. In 1998, advertising became self-regulating in Australia, hence the need for the development of a monitoring body such as Ad Standards.

Ad Standards regularly releases information about the number and nature of complaints it receives, and sometimes, based on the jury’s reviews, complaints are upheld and the ad is pulled from circulation.

So far in 2018, over 4,000 complaints have been made to Ad Standards, mainly regarding sexual and violent content. A Sportsbet ad and one by iSelect from earlier this year are the two most complained about in the 20-year-history of Ad Standards.

Here are the five ads that attracted the most complaints for 2018:

(Please note, you may be likely to find these ads offensive)

 1. Sportsbet – 793 complaints – A man ‘manscaping’ his pubic hair should not ever be in a TV ad. (Also, how is it even relevant to betting?) This ad was removed from free-to-air TV after a record amount of complaints were received.

 2. iSelect – 715 complaints – An ad showing a woman aggressively hitting a piñata in front of children generated the second highest amount of complaints ever. Some viewers found the violence abhorrent and the ad was removed from TV by iSelect.

 3. Ultra Tune – 134 complaints – This wasn’t Ultra Tune’s first rodeo, the company appears to have a penchant for controversial ads that spark outrage among some consumers. This year’s ad featuring Mike Tyson was no exception; with complaints suggesting it was sexually suggestive and exploitive. These claims, however, were dismissed by the Ad Standards Industry Jury (meaning the ad could continue to be screened).

 4. Youfoodz – 49 complaints – A couple discussing how often they ‘do it’, when they’re really talking about eating Youfoodz meals, was seen by some to be tasteless. These complaints were also dismissed by Ad Standards.

 5. Yum Restaurants International – 46 complaints – A KFC ad that portrayed parents being shown a photo their kid had drawn of them – ‘naked wrestling’ during a parent-teacher interview received criticism for its sexual content. The Ad Standards Industry Jury dismissed these complaints.

These ads show just how far advertisers will go to gain attention for their product. I know they say sex sells, but honestly ad men and women, you can’t relate it to everything!

What do you think of these ads? Which do you find most and least offensive?

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Written by Lucy


Total Comments: 20
  1. 0

    Did any of these Ads appear on Australian TV? Currently Ads are the bane of modern society. They costs the public and taxpayer so much in the way of tax relief on the cost of making and paying for the ads to be shown, additional costs included in the price of the product, as well as transferring monies to sports and sportsmen via sposorship, which the public then compensztes for with increased entrance fees to see the sport. TV adverts should be restricted to no more than 5 in any one time slot, no more than 4 time slots per hour and no repeat ads in any one break. Also, opt out from ads should be enabled on all social media

  2. 0

    No no no. Real Insurance.
    There is probably nothing wrong with the product but I just want to reach into the TV and drop their virtual bodies into a Pacific Island and get them to live a life. …and the script writers and Advertising producers.
    Its like they are making sales buy torturing the viewers.
    Please cookies don’t be reading this text!

  3. 0

    I find all ads intolerable because of their inanity. That’s why I watch only ABC television. God help us all if it’s privatized.

  4. 0

    I select. Disgusting, violent ad. I registered a complaint but didn’t hear back.
    This pinata, as all other pinatas,, are a prelude to cruelty to animals. Abhorrent indeed.

  5. 0

    Love the collection of KFC ads. The rest drive me mad. Hate them

  6. 0

    Ads are meant to attract our attention so the more that get reported to Ad Standards, the better job the ad gurus are doing. Ever since radio and TV sets were made, there always has been a switch to either turn off or change stations. Can I suggest that those who are offended use them please.

    A total of the complaints for the worst 5 ads is 1737 and this shows me that the vocal minority is spoiling things for the majority once more. Can we, in future, assess the percentage of complaints against the viewing/listening audience and if it under 2.5% just ignore them.

    • 0

      Old Man you may be but you show no nouse. We could also stick our head in the sand but the adverisers sill still get their pound of flesh and the taxpayer and general public will still be paying for it, whether they listen or watch or not.

    • 0

      Longbow drawn Paulo. Please explain how the taxpayer is affected? The only way I can see the taxpayer being affected is because there is a government department checking the complaints about ads. Maybe the advertising industry should be like the ABC, self regulating.

    • 0

      The advertising company will claim tax relief for their expenditure as will the companies paying the adveriser. Whatever is their tax rate, that is whzt they will claim back from the ATO.

    • 0

      I would like to suggest Old Man that the number of complaints received does not equate to the number of people ‘offended’ by a particular ad, only the number of people who took the time and effort to make a complaint. I have never personally made a complaint about a TV ad but many do ‘offend’ me, and not always for salacious reasons. By the way I found the ‘naked wrestling” ad amusing rather than offensive, but it did not induce me to go and buy any ‘fast food’. I find recording programs using the Foxtel planner then best solution, I can fast forward through the monotonous ads and promos

  7. 0

    Yes well get ready for worse to come. The new advertisers code of practice now bans (read it BANS) ads showing women doing housework, men being mildly incompetent looking after kids, and ads showing men/women in ‘traditional’ gender-based roles and any ads where one sex could be seen to be denigrating the other.

    Australia used to have a sense of humour. Now everyone is too busy being permanently offended! If you don’t like the ads, don’t watch. Every TV even today has an ‘off’ switch. Use it!!!

    • 0

      – so 97.7% of the community don’t relate to it. Its a stage thing for advertisers to do.
      My grandchild was doing a school Maths survey where she was asked to colour in the time spent watching TV.
      She replied, “I don’t watch TV.” Children don’t watch TV anymore. There is nothing for them to watch so parents have no idea what advertisements are appearing before them on their iPads.
      But that’s an issue for another day.

  8. 0

    The ads that bemuse me are the Swisse ones with famous sports people telling us how beneficial the product is to them. If Swisse works it must be a performance enhancing substance and should be treated as such. If it doesn’t work then the ads are a lie.

  9. 0

    I understand why ads exist, and the processes admakers use to annoy/attract our attention. But, surely 11 ads in a break is too many? So much, that the first ad is repeated because you forgot it was on so long ago! How do they sell that? It really is a shame that tv stations have to interrupt their ad breaks with programs.

    • 0

      when you factor in the constant repetition after each ad break of the 2 or 3 minutes aired before the ads in case we are dense enough to have forgotten where we were its a total sham. Cheap TV when you can fill an hour with half an hours content. Add to that the intrusive channel logo plus promos on screen during a program it is over the top. Pay TV is no better.

    • 0

      – and they are the same ad over and over as if we have short term memory loss.

  10. 0

    The guy cutting his toenails must be the most yukky add ever.

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