[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Advert complaints hit record high
A KFC advert received record complaints
A KFC ad showing people singing with their mouths full upset many
A record number of complaints about print and broadcast adverts were made last year, figures show.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 26,236 complaints in 2005, an increase of 3,666 - 16% - on 2004. It said this was due to a simpler process.

The industry watchdog ordered action on 2,241 adverts, but took no action on the five drawing the most complaints.

They included adverts for fast-food chain KFC, drama The L Word, Pot Noodle snacks, Mazda cars and Ryanair airline.

Public 'offended'

Fast-food chain KFC's commercial for its Zinger Crunch Salad became the most complained-about advert of all time after it attracted 1,671 objections in 2005.

But the ASA did not uphold viewers' complaints that images of call centre staff singing with their mouths full were offensive or a bad influence on children.

KFC: 1,671 complaints. Not upheld
Living TV: 650 complaints. Not upheld
Pot Noodle: 620 complaints. Not upheld
Mazda - 425 complaints. Not upheld
Ryanair - 319 complaints. Not upheld

Christopher Graham, director general of the ASA, said complaints such as these did not automatically warrant action.

"Just because people find something rather distasteful doesn't really mean the Advertising Standards Authority should ban it," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I think it's a very serious penalty and we have to strike a balance between what people find you know naff, tacky, tasteless and what is really harmful or seriously offensive."

A "handful" of adverts each generated a large number of complaints, and there were more complaints over fewer adverts - 11,865 in 2005 compared with 12,450 the previous year - the ASA's 2005 report says.

The vast majority of complaints to the ASA came from members of the public who felt "misled or offended", it says.

Other adverts drawing the most complaints included Living TV's poster for drama The L Word about a group of glamorous gay women, a Pot Noodle advert featuring a man with a horn in his pocket, Mazda's commercial showing a lingerie-clad mannequin and Ryanair's "London Fights Back" commercial.

Television was the medium attracting the most complaints, followed by the national press, direct mail, posters and the internet.

Rival complaints

Until November 2004 regulator Ofcom handled broadcast advert complaints. However, the ASA now handles complaints about both print and broadcast adverts.

The one-stop shop has made it easier to lodge a complaint
Lord Borrie QC, ASA chairman

The report compares the total complaints it received in 2005 with those made to both the ASA and Ofcom in 2004.

ASA Chairman Lord Borrie QC said a simpler process for viewers' objections was the reason the number of complaints had risen.

"The one-stop shop has made it easier and simpler to lodge a complaint," Lord Borrie said.

It was not because of deteriorating advertising standards or the public becoming more inclined to object, he said.

Companies complaining about their competitors' adverts accounted for 10% of total complaints - up from 7% in 2003.

Ofcom will review the ASA's role as the regulator for radio and TV advertising later this year.

Ad Breakdown's review of 2005
30 Dec 05 |  Magazine
British Gas in dock over advert
12 Apr 06 |  Business
Head & Shoulders adverts knocked
04 Apr 06 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific