Agencies should brace themselves for a growth in the number of
complaints about TV ads because viewers feel increasingly comfortable
about voicing their concerns to industry watchdogs.
The warning came in the Independent Television Commission’s annual
report on TV advertising complaints, which found that the number rose
from 3,317 in 1994 to 3,432 last year.
The ITC believes that the Citizen’s Charter, and similar initiatives
over recent years, have encouraged a more assertive approach to
complaining. However, it pointed out that senior ad industry figures
such as Adrian Holmes, chairman of Lowe Howard- Spink, spoke out against
offensive ads last year, suggesting a trend towards more aggressive
Sun Alliance attracted the largest number of complaints for its ads
during 1995. They juxtaposed a series of images that could be
interpreted as shocking or violent. The ITC received 214 complaints, but
did not uphold any of them.
Neutralia’s ad for its shower gel brand, which included a brief shot of
a woman’s nipple, attracted 115 complaints, which, again, were not
upheld. Of the top five most complained about ads, the ITC offered
guidance but did not think it necessary to take firm restrictive action.
Almost a quarter of the complaints received concerned ‘offensive’ ads.
The number of ads that viewers found misleading remained fairly stable
year on year.