Protests to ASA over ads fall by 13%

The total number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority fell by 13% last year, with the number of campaigns subject to complaint also falling year-on-year by 6%.

Paddy Power was the most complained about ad
Paddy Power was the most complained about ad

The ASA received more than 25,000 complaints about 13,074 different ad campaigns in 2010, according to the organisation’s annual report.

Complaints from the public represented 96% of the complaints received, with those from industry accounting for the other 4%.

Of the ads subject to complaint, the ASA acted to change or withdraw 2,226 campaigns, including high-profile spots for Sony PlayStation, Reebok and BT.

Paddy Power’s TV ad depicting a blind footballer kicking a cat was the most complained about ad of last year. The ad, by Big Al’s Creative Emporium, attracted 1,313 complaints from viewers, the majority of whom argued that the spot was offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty.

However the ASA did not uphold the complaint, stating that the ad was surreal and light-hearted in tone and was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The issue of animal welfare was linked to almost 2,000 complaints made about ads in 2010. John Lewis’ Christmas ad by Adam & Eve attracted 316 complaints after it showed a dog living outside in a snow-covered kennel.

Again the ASA did not uphold the complaints, stating that the ad did not endorse or encourage animal cruelty or neglect.


Top ten complained about ads in 2010
Company Complaints Outcome
Paddy Power plc  1313 complaints Not upheld
Marie Stopes Internaitonal  1088 complaints Not upheld
Department of Energy and Climate Change  939 complaints Upheld in part
Global Personals Ltd  420 complaints Not upheld
John Lewis Partnership plc  216 complaints Not upheld
HomePride Ltd  273 complaints Not investigated (previously not upheld in 2009)
AG Barr plc  204 complaints Not upheld
Cardell Media Ltd  185 complaints Upheld
Unilever UK Ltd  154 complaints Not upheld / referred to Ofcom
SSL International plc  151 complaints Not upheld