It’s Oscar Time: Best Animated Whingers Award 2014…ASA announces its top ten adverts based upon the number of people easily offended

Posted: 24 February, 2015 in ASA Advert Censor
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paddy powers oscar time advert ASA has published 2014’s top ten most complained about ads. The top three ads are also the most complained about ads ever. Topping the list is Paddy Power’s OscarPistorius ad with 5,525 complaints.The fact that the three most complained about ads ever have appeared in 2014 reflects the rise of social media, which has allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns about ads. Many of the complaints about the Paddy Power ad and the third most-complained about ad (The Sun’s Win a Date with a Page 3 Model’) were coordinated via the online petition site,

2014’s ten most complained about ads are:

1. Paddy Power.

5,525 complaints upheld by ASA.

ASA banned this national press ad that offered incentives to bet on the outcome of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial. ASA claimed that the ad caused serious offence by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability.


1,768 complaints not upheld.

This TV and cinema ad  prompted complaints that the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children by using the word booking in place of a swear word. ASA did not uphold the complaints, judging that it was a light hearted play on words that couldn’t be mistaken for an actual swear word. We also ruled that it was unlikely to encourage swearing amongst children; any children that did pick up on the joke were unlikely to have learned bad language through the ad itself.

3. The Sun.

1,711 complaints upheld

An email sent to subscribers of the Sun’s Dream Team fantasy football competition featured a prize draw to win a date with a Page 3 model. Winners were also able to pick their date. The complaints, many of which were submitted as part of a campaign led by, believed the ad was sexist and objectified women. ASA upheld the complaints claiming that the email was offensive and irresponsible for presenting women as objects to be won.

4. Sainsbury’s in association with The Royal British Legion

823 complaints not upheld

Sainsbury’s Christmas TV ad showed a story based on the 1914 Christmas Day truce during the First World War. Most of the complainants objected to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket. While acknowledging that some found the ad to be in poor taste, ASA did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.

5. The Save the Children Fund

614 complaints not upheld

This TV and video-on-demand ad featured a women giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife and prompted complaints that the scenes were offensive, distressing and inappropriately scheduled. ASA did not uphold the complaints and agreed that the ad’s post 9 pm scheduling restriction appropriately reduced the risk of younger viewers seeing the ads and causing distress.

6. Waitrose

267 complaints considered resolved

A TV and cinema ad claimed Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose prompted complaints that it was misleading because they understood that some services, like cleaning, were outsourced. Waitrose greed to amend the ad and ASA considered the matter resolved.

7. VIP Electronic Cigarettes

199 complaints that were upheld

Complaints claimed that two VIP e-cigarette TV ads glamorised and promoted the use of tobacco products. ASA did not uphold the complaints about glamourisation, but did consider the ads depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking.

8. TADServices Ltd

188 complaints. The first actual real complaint about a reprehensible website.

9 Flora

183 complaints not upheld

This animated TV and YouTube ad for Flora Buttery showed two children making breakfast in bed for their parents and walking in on their parents wrestling . ASA received complaints that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to see. While ASA acknowledged that while the ad was suggestive, it did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, and so was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers.

10. IQ

177 complaints more actual real complaints about a reprehensible website.


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