Sex and swearing offend UK public as MoneySuperMarket and Booking.com top ad complaints

2015's most complained about TV ads were those that involved sex or swearing, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

MoneySuperMarket: TV ad received 1,513 complaints
MoneySuperMarket: TV ad received 1,513 complaints

Last year's top 10 most complained about ads saw MoneySuperMarket.com top the list with 1,513 complaints.

The ad featured a man walking down a street and dancing in high heels and denim shorts, which some people considered to be overly sexual and offensive.

Filling three slots in the top 10 was Booking.com, at numbers two, four and seven, with their play on the word ‘booking’ which was thought to be in place of a swear word.

The third most complained about ad was PayPal’s Christmas campaign, which cast doubt over the existence of Santa. 

Also featuring in the top 10 list were charity ads and public health messages (British Heart Foundation and Department of Health), which prompted complaints due to their sensitive content and handling of hard-hitting issues.

Despite the number of complaints, only one ad in the Top 10 list was banned, which was Omega Pharma's promotion of a slimming aid.

While these ads drew complaints about harm and offence, the majority (75 per cent) of the ASA’s caseload is made up of complaints about misleading ads.

During 2015, the ASA said it focused on making sure broadband providers and secondary ticketing websites became more transparent in their pricing practices, while also making sure vloggers were clear with consumers when they were being advertised through paid endorsements.

Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: "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."

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