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Advertising Standards Authority reveals 2015's top 10 list of most complained-about ads


By Tony Connelly, Sports Marketing Reporter

February 23, 2016 | 4 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has revealed the most complained-about ads of 2015 with Moneysupermarket’s ad featuring a man strutting and twerking in high heels and denim hot pants topping the list.

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A total of 1,513 complaints were directed at the ASA from discontent members of the public who took offence to the ‘Epic Strut’ ad which was part of the price comparison service's wider ‘Epic’ campaign.

While some viewers took exception to the ad it proved to be widely popular at the same time. It was dubbed the funniest advert of 2015 and featured in Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe on the BBC at the end of the year.

The Sun also parodied the popularity of it when it superimposed chancellor George Osborne’s head on the hot-pant adorned body in a front page story about the budget.

Second place in this year’s list was awarded to thanks to its ads which substituted the ‘f-word’ with ‘booking’. In fact the travel website excelled in generating complaints this year, taking three of the top ten spots in the most complained about list for 2015. The brand successfully tread the line between humour and offense though as the ASA said none of the ads breached the UK code.

ASA Most complained-about ads

PayPal found itself in the top 10 after garnering 464 complaints for its festive ad which some parents claimed ruined Christmas because it suggested that Santa was not real.

Fifth spot went to Protein World’s “beach body ready” posters, which 380 people felt were offensive for using a bikini-clad woman and promoting an unhealthy sense of body image.

The ASA said the ad did not break rules relating to serious or widespread offence, but did order Protein World to change its claims about health and weight loss.

ASA chief executive, Guy Parker the “top 10 for 2015 will no doubt get people talking about [whether] the ads are or aren’t offensive”.

He added: “While matters of offence can grab the headlines, the bulk of our work is the less glamorous task of tackling misleading advertising.”

The British Heart Foundation and an anti-smoking campaign by the Department of Health also landed on the list which is somewhat unsurprising given that public health campaigns often adopt hard-hitting techniques to portray their message.

see below for the list of top 10 most complained about ads of 2015.

1. MoneySuperMarket’s ‘Dave's Epic Strut’- 1,513 complaints

2. ‘Booking right’ ad- 683 complaints

3. PayPal ‘No Presents’ festive ad- 464 complaints

4. ‘The Beach’- 407 complaints

5. Protein World 'Are You Beach Body Ready'– 380 complaints

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6. British Heart Foundation- Heart disease is heartless- 219 complaints

7. The ad showed a couple using wordplay around the word “booking”

8. Department of Health ‘Every cigarette rots you from the inside out’ – 181 complaints.

9. Nicocigs ‘VIVID E-Cigarette New Vaping Technology #NeverLookBack’ – 145 complaints.

10. Omega Pharma XLS Medical max strength weight loss pills – 136 complaints.

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