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News 1 Jul 2021 - 3 min read

The 10 ads that made Australians mad this year... so far

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer

Crazy Domains' ad featuring a man urinating on a high-end business received 283 complaints.

The ads that prompted the most complaints from the public have been revealed: public urination, bad language, health and safety concerns and dangerous driving are top of mind for consumers. But the top 10 ads recorded the lowest number of combined complaints for mid-year stats on record, Ad Standards says.

What you need to know:

  • Ad Standards have revealed the top 10 ads that received the most complaints.
  • Top of the list is Crazy Domains’ ad featuring a man urinating on a store front, which was removed after being deemed too unhygienic.
  • Kia and Volvo were also found in breach of the Motor Vehicle Advertising Code for showing unsafe driving practices.
  • Ad Standards received 2,245 complaints in the first half of 2021, but the top 10 prompted 496 combined complaints – the lowest number on record for midyear stats.

Ad Standards has released the 10 advertisements from the first six months of 2021 that prompted the most complaints, with discrimination and vilification, sex, and health and safety issues foremost on the mind of the public.

With a combined total of 496 complaints between them, this is the lowest mid-year figure for mid-year case and complaint numbers, Ad Standards says. Seventeen ads have been withdrawn or modified after upheld complaints this year.

A TV ad depicting an inebriated man urinating on a shopfront topped the list, with 283 complaints. Promoting Crazy Domains and claiming, “the real world sucks for business”, the ad was removed after the complaints were upheld by Ad Standards for breaching the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) Code of Ethics. It was found to be illegal and excessively unhygienic behaviour, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two other ads from the 10 – one from Kia Automotive Australia and another from Volvo Car Australia – were upheld by Ad Standards for breaching the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ Motor Vehicle Advertising Code for showing unsafe driving practices.

The Kia ad depicted three vehicles doing a U-turn at the same time, while the Volvo ad showed a tired woman beginning to fall asleep. They received 15 and 12 complaints respectively and were both either edited or removed from circulation.

Aussie Broadband had the ad with the second highest number of complaints, with 74. It featured the words “bloody” and “freakin’”, which Ad Standards found most members of the community would not find inappropriate or obscene.

South Australia Police, IAG Insurance, Huddle, Universal Pictures, eHarmony and Reckitt Benckiser were the other advertisers in the list. All ads ran on Free-to-air television.

Ad Standards has received 2,245 complaints to 30 June, with 639 of these contributing to the 162 cases assessed by the Community Panel under the advertising Codes.

The list

  1. Crazy Domains – TV – Free-to-air
    The advertisement depicts a man urinating on a building.
    Number of complaints: 283
    Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.4 – Sex, sexuality or nudity, 2.6 – Health and safety
  2.  Aussie Broadband – TV – Free-to-air
    There are multiple versions of this advertisement showing people in their gardens using a hose. The words ‘freaking’ and bloody’ are used.
    Number of complaints: 74
    Issues of concern: 1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.5 – Language, 2.6 – Health and safety
  3. South Australia Police – TV – Free-to-air
    The advertisement follows a young man driving home from a pub. He passes a number of situations consistent with drink driving and in his interior monologue he can be heard calling himself a ‘selfish prick’ for drink-driving.
    Number of complaints: 47
    Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.5 – Language
  4. IAG Insurance – TV – Free-to-air
    The advertisement documents two children’s actions to save the Koalas’ homes after discovering a number of trees have been marked for removal.
    Number of complaints: 17
    Issues of concern: 2.6 – Health and safety
  5. Huddle – TV – Free-to-air
    There are three versions of this advertisement, two featuring a woman and her niece and one featuring a woman by a pool.
    Number of complaints: 16
    Issues of concern: 2.1 – Discrimination or vilification, 2.5 – Language, 2.6 – Health and safety
  6. Universal Pictures – TV – Free-to-air
    There are two versions of this advertisement promoting the movie “The Conjuring – The Devil Made Me Do It”.
    Number of complaints: 15
    Issues of concern: 2.3 – Violence
  7. KIA Automotive Australia – TV – Free-to-air
    The advertisement shows three vehicles driving together and simultaneously performing a J turn.
    Number of complaints: 15
    Issues of concern: FCAI 2(a) – Unsafe driving, FCAI 2(b) – Breaking the speed limit
  8. Volvo Car Australia – TV – Free-to-air
    The advertisement features various scenes of parents running around after children. It then shows a woman falling asleep behind the wheel of a car and the car automatically engaging the Lane Keeping Aid.
    Number of complaints: 12
    Issues of concern: FCAI 2(d) – Fatigue-drugs-alcohol, Code of Ethics 2.6 – Health and safety
  9. eHarmony – TV – Free-to—air
    The television advertisement has four versions featuring various couples.
    Number of complaints: 9
    Issues of concern: 2.4 – Sex, sexuality or nudity, 2.6 – Health and safety
  10. Reckitt Benckiser – TV – Free-to-air
    The television ad depicts people using water in various different situations, with a voiceover stating facts about water usage in Australia and the #FinishWaterWaste initiative.
    Number of complaints: 8
    Issues of concern: AANA Environmental Code 1 – Truth and Factual, 3 – Substantiation


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