Videos: The 10 Most-Complained About Adverts Ever

The only times we’ve actually enjoyed an advert break were when Sky Atlantic did some retro ads for the Mad Men season five premiere and once when we had to watch Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. Yet although they annoy us, we’ve never bothered complaining about them. Thousands of you have though and the ten most complained about commericals were revealed today. Do you think there’s anyone out there who complained about every one of these? We think there might be..

1. KFC, 2005. 1,761 complaints – not upheld
Proving that there really is nothing we Brits detest more than bad manners, this KFC advert tops the poll after hundreds of people complained that an ad showing people talking with their mouths full would encourage poor table manners. They were all told to do one..

2. Auctionworld, 2004. 1,360 complaints – upheld (licence revoked)
Customers who saw this shopping channel advertising misleading prices and explaining how amazing their delivery service was (it was actually shocking) couldn’t get on the phone quick enough. When these complaints were eventually passed on to Ofcom, the watchdog were so outraged that they revoked its licence to broadcast. Boom.

3. Paddy Power, 2010. 1,313 complaints – not upheld
It’s no surprise to see that perceived animal cruelty is the next subject on our list. This advert, which showed a blind footballer booting a stray cat sent animal lovers into a frenzy, but it was deemed okay by ASA (Advertising Standards Agency).

4. The Christian Party, 2009. 1,204 complaints – not upheld
This poster got atheists very hot under the collar a couple of years back and they said that suggesting they might be wrong about the whole ‘God Thing’ (the law of averages says that one way or another, plenty of us will be) was offensive. They also argued that the Christian Party’s ‘wild’ claims couldn’t be substantiated.

5. The British Safety Council, 1995. 1,192 complaints – upheld
Coming just behind the complaint-happy atheists are the Catholics, who kicked up a storm back in 1995 when the British Safety Council circulated this leaflet with the Pope on. Of course complaining about stuff wasn’t as én vogue back then as it is these days, so if converted to their modern equivalent, the number of complaints here would be enough to get this one to the top of the table. Why were the God-botherers annoyed? See below..

6. Marie Stopes International, 2010. 1,088 complaints – not upheld
Just over a thousand people got annoyed by this advert a couple of years back. They claimed it promoted abortion. It didn’t.

7. Volkswagen, 2008. 1,070 complaints – upheld in part
A split decision! This commercial, in which an engineer fought multiple versions of himself alá Fight Club, was ruled too violent to be shown before the 9pm watershed. Presumably kids immediately flooded the ads YouTube page..

8. Yves St Laurent, 2000. 948 complaints – upheld
Ahh this takes us back. Yes folks, the picture of Sophie Dahl caused more road accidents than drink-driving when it was plastered across roadside billboards up and down the land in 2000. Watchdogs upheld the complaints, agreeing that it was ‘suggestive’ and could cause ‘offence’. We don’t know what they’re on about.

9. Department of Energy and Climate, 2010. 939 complaints – upheld in part.
Some viewers claimed this advert which warned of an on-rushing global-warming apocalypse was guilty of ‘scare-mongering’ and although the ASA disagreed with most of the objections (is scaring people into recycling more paper really a crime?) it did uphold complaints about a separate poster campaign.

10. Barnodos, 2008. 840 complaints – not upheld.
Scenes of drug-taking and child abuse upset some viewers back in 2008. The Advertising Standards Agency told them to suck it up..


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