The top 5 MOST complained about TV ads

We (perhaps unlike many…) love TV ads! Some can be funny, some can be sad and there are some ads over the years that have really rubbed a few people up the wrong way. We’re going to look at the top 5 most complained about commercials and also what the verdict was by the Advertising Standards Authority, Upheld or not.


5. The Fighting engineer – VW Golf 2008

This advert from 2008 got 1070 complaints from viewers – most cited waaaay too much violence to be shown before the 9pm watershed time. We actually really like ‘The Matrix’ inspired fight scenes in this, but perhaps getting poked in the face by an exhaust pipe is a little much for a toddler to see. The ASA partially upheld this complaint


4. These girls are late abortion – Marie Stopes 2010

This Marie Stopes ad from 2010 received 1084 complaints for apparently promoting abortion. The ASA did not uphold this one


3. Blind footballers – Paddy Power 2010

Ok, this is a pretty famous one… blind footballers play a form of football where a bell is placed inside the ball so the players can hear the ball. Unfortunately Chairman Meow scampers onto the pitch and his bell is mistaken for the ball… hilarity ensues… 1091 people complained about this one due to it being offensive to blind people and also potentially promoting cruelty to animals. The ASA did not uphold this complaint in the end and the advert continued to be shown


2. Emergency call centre Zinger – KFC 2005

Seems like an absolute age ago when this came out. In 2005 KFC brought out this legendary ad which mightily annoyed 1671 people across the country. It shows various people in a emergency centre call room singing with their mouths full. Here in Babble HQ, people talking with their mouths open makes Maggie’s blood boil – you have been warned. Reasons cited by the public for this being offensive were mainly due to people worrying that this would promote bad manners in children…  ASA did not uphold this complaint


1. Holidays – 2015

Complaints hit 2345 for this ad from 2015 for People, perhaps fairly, thought that the word ‘booking’ was being substituted for a swear word, and when the advert was shown during breaks in Harry Potter, Paddington and Night at the Museum people really got upset… This one did not upset the ASA either – not upheld

So, that’s the list – some in there that just make your blood boil, right?! Perhaps not. We still love ads over here at Babble


About Babble

We love voices and we love what we do. Since we opened our doors in 2007, bringing fresh talent to an ever-expanding industry, we’ve supplied voiceover artists to clients  across the world, on commercials, animation, video games… you name it, one of our VOs has done it. Why should you choose us? With over 30 years experience across the commercial and production industry, we’d like to think we know our stuff, and will use that knowledge to make your life easier. We listen to your casting, production and budgetary needs and supply you with the best voice for the job. Babble – top talent, sounding great.

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Phil Seys