THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Most complained about ads
campaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 17 December 2001 12:00PM
A bunch of ungainly nudists with their naughty bits covered by slogans
was meant not only to raise smiles, but drive subscription levels for
the UK's biggest internet service provider. Unfortunately, more than 200
viewers didn't see the funny side of so much cellulite in the M&C
Saatchi campaign and complained to the Independent Television
2. French Connection
The clothing company, now the perpetual bete noire of the Advertising
Standards Authority, found itself back in trouble again with its
"fcukinkybugger" poster campaign created by TBWA/ London. A total of 141
people complained that the advertisements were offensive. The ASA agreed
and has ordered French Connection to submit all of its posters for
pre-vetting for the next two years.
Viewers settling down with their TV dinners suddenly lost their
appetites when a commercial for Pampers Total Care described how its
nappies were designed "to handle pee but also soft poo", accompanied by
some graphic graphics. Although 135 people complained the ITC refused to
ban the Saatchi & Saatchi ad.
The RSPCA's parody of a toy commercial turned from mawkish to horrific
when "My little puppy" providing "hours of fun for all the family" ended
up in a holdall at the bottom of a canal. The endline was: "Pets aren't
toys." The result was 130 complaints to the ITC that the AMV BBDO ad was
unnecessarily distressing. The ITC refused to ban it.
5. Virgin Mobile
A phoney handwritten letter stuffed between the pages of national
newspapers and magazines purported to be from a disgruntled subscriber
to his mobile phone company. Announcing he was switching to Virgin
Mobile, the writer told his erstwhile supplier: "You can take your
contract and shove it where the phone don't ring." The ASA backed the
124 complaints claiming the insert was offensive and not well enough
identified as advertising material.
The Swedish retailer's TV campaign featuring a Mafia-style trio
appearing to intimidate householders into visiting its stores was
tasteless and frightening, according to the 122 people who complained to
the ITC. The watchdog said it was merely dry humour and declined to
order the St Luke's work off air.
A poster for a lifestyle website featuring two women lying on a bed and
kissing and headed, "Thank God for women", provoked 99 complaints to the
ASA. However, it refused to back claims that it was offensive and
unsuitable in a medium seen by children.
A Leith Agency's commercial in which a woman tricks a man into giving up
his pint of Carling by pretending to remove a false eye and dropping it
into his glass wasn't a joker for 95 people who complained it was
tasteless and mocked disabled people. The ITC offered sympathy but
declined to take action.
9. Hewlett Packard
Transport pressure groups and unions were united in their condemnation
of a commercial featuring a crowd of children pelting a tram with
snowballs. The ITC agreed with the 95 people who complained that the
Publicis ad condoned anti-social and potentially dangerous
10. Health Laboratories of North America
The ASA fielded 83 complaints from people unimpressed with the
extravagant claims made in a mailer for the slimming product Berry Trim.
"Even works for people who love to eat fattening foods," was among the
headlines. The ASA was equally suspicious and backed the complaints.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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