ASA stamps down on record number of ads in 2016

Almost 5,000 ads were changed or withdrawn in 2016 as a result of action from the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice, the organisations' annual report reveals.

BT: ad featuring actor Ryan Reynolds was among those with upheld complaints
BT: ad featuring actor Ryan Reynolds was among those with upheld complaints

The 4,824 ads marked an increase of 5% on 2015’s total, and represents an all-time high.

In total, the ASA received 28,521 complaints – down 3.5% on the previous year. These complaints were about 16,999 ads, 28.4% of which were reprimanded. The watchdog’s actions resulted in eight websites being taken down, one successful prosecution of an alternative therapy provider after referral to Trading Standards, and two arrests pending prosecution.

High-profile brands that saw their ads banned included the AA, Diageo’s Captain Morgan and Heinz Baked Beans. Tesco and Aldi were both rapped for misleading price comparisons, while in November, the watchdog issued guidance on how broadband speeds should be advertised, after both Virgin and BT had ads banned.

The report also revealed that almost half the ASA’s work now involved "advertiser-owned" ads: content on brands’ own websites and social media profiles. In the five years since its remit was expanded to cover this material, it has investigated 41,383 complaints about 26,872 advertiser-owned ads, which over that time have made up a third of all ads complained about.

Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: "We now encounter messages from brands and organisations on websites, on social media platforms, in vlogs, blogs, postings and tweets and even in sponsored online articles.

"Despite the rapid technological change, one thing has remained constant: we expect to be able to trust every ad we see or hear.  Of course most stick to the rules, but we’re adapting to the increasingly interconnected world in which we live to tackle those that don’t."

The ads that fell foul of the ASA in 2016

Three and LG's Blair Witch horror spoof ad 'inappropriately targeted children'

Heinz Baked Beans ad banned for health and safety risk

Audi ad banned by ASA for link between speed and excitement

Diageo hit out at Captain Morgan ad ban

Carlsberg falls foul of ad watchdog after taking booze to a building site

Hooch lands in hot water over Facebook ad 

Another Virgin Media ad starring Usain Bolt banned over 'misleading' broadband claim

BT's Ryan Reynolds ad banned for 'misleading' broadband claims

ASA bans electrical retailer's radio ad for sexist 'double D' quip

Sainsbury's Bank ad banned by ASA for 'trivialising' credit cards

Nurofen ad banned for misleading pain killer claims

ASA bans Gucci ad for featuring 'unhealthily thin' model

Iceland ads for Fat Bastard wine banned by ASA

Dorset shop rapped by ASA over 'racist' golliwog newspaper ad

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