The Advertising Standards Bureau have released a list of the top 10 most complained about ads in Australia in 2015, proving that the organisation really did have their work cut out for them this year. From Rebel Wilson’s “big pussy” to that fat-shaming, period-shaming sanitary saga, plenty of commercials caused a downright kerfuffle thanks to puns, low-range swearing, gender discrimination and more. Check them out below.
Number of complaints: 161
Ranking at number one was a Holden TV commercial which sees a man complain about “bloody caravaners”, a phrase repeated by his young son. The main issue was “inappropriate language”, but the board dismissed the complaints as the word “bloody” was “a colloquial term used express frustration or to emphasise what is being said”.
2. Ashley Madison
Number of complaints: 138
The TV commercial featured men singing about “looking for someone other than my wife” which raised concerns over “gender discrimination or vilification”. Of the most complained about ads, this was the only one which was actually found to have breached the industry’s code of ethics. While the decision split the board, it was eventually found that the ad was offensive in its portrayal of married women, cast as “unimportant” and replaceable, and that adultery was normalised.
3. Fantastic Snacks
Number of complaints: 85
The TV commercial shows a woman licking Delites crackers flavouring from her husband’s lips, with the main complaint surrounding “sex, sexuality or nudity”. One viewer even described it as “softcore pornography”.
Number of complaints: 76
Shunned for everything from fat-shaming to “gender discrimination or vilification”, the TV commercial for Sofy BeFresh feminine hygiene products, where the actress becomes larger, hungry, emotional and just generally unstable as a result of her period, is one of the most talked about and divisive of the year.
Number of complaints: 71
A TV commercial featuring a sweaty man wiping himself (more specifically, his testitcles and armpits) at the gym before smelling it raised concerns over social values.
Number of complaints: 66
An ad where Rebel Wilson refers to her cat as a “big pussy” concerned viewers because of “sex, sexuality or nudity”, however, the board found it didn’t vilify women, although it was “clearly employing a suggestive double entendre”. Furthermore, when the director asks if it’s Rebel’s “pussy” he can smell and says it’s “nice”, “picante” and “fragrant”, this also caused upset.
“The board noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement is degrading to women in its suggestion that a woman’s vagina would smell,” the decision said. “While a reference to a woman’s genitalia is unusual, in this context it is not vilifying of women”.
Number of complaints: 62
In proof that some Australians are still backwards when it comes to same-sex couple acceptance, a TV ad for Lynx hair care products where two men kiss caused uproar. How dare they? (Please, note the sarcasm).
Number of complaints: 59
A TV ad where a woman flicks her belt at a snake concerned viewers because of “violence or cruelty to animals”.
9. Sca Hygience
Number of complaints: 56
Handee Ultra’s TV ad featuring people saying “sheet” in response to accidents was deemed as “inappropriate language” by some viewers. Have we not forever been using words like “fudge”, “shivers” and “sugar” to replace more obscene words for some time now?
Number of complaints: 53
Three women trimming bonsai plants which are strategically positioned in front of their crotches was slammed by viewers for “sex, sexuality or nudity”.