In Brief

Ten most complained about adverts in 2016

Body-popping bodyguard tops list with 1,063 complaints to Advertising Standards Authority

Money Supermarket Man

Price comparison website MoneySuperMarket once again took top spot in the list of most complained about TV ads last year.

The advert, featuring New York breakdancer Mr Wave as a body-popping bodyguard, prompted 1,063 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that it was overtly sexual and not suitable to be seen by children.

However, the watchdog cleared it of any breach of the UK advertising code and ruled most people would view it as humorous, not distasteful.                        

The ad was joined by another two promotions for MoneySuperMarket in ASA's top five.

"All of them featured Gary the dancing bodyguard, Dave the twerking businessman, and his builder-rival Colin," says ITV.

Fifth on the list was a re-run of a 2010 advert showing blind footballers mistakenly kicking a cat due to the bell around its neck.

As ASA had already ruled the advert would be seen as humorous and not humiliating or undermining to blind people, it did not investigate again, reports the BBC.

The list also contained a number of ads "that tried to present positive statements about diversity, but drew significant numbers of complaints from viewers", says The Guardian.

Among them was an advert for dating website Match.com featuring a woman removing her female partner's top and kissing her, which received 896 complaints. A campaign for Maltesers, described by the newspaper as "light-hearted", received 151 complaints for showing a woman in a wheelchair joking about how her disability caused her to have a spasm during sex, which her boyfriend "misinterpreted". It ranked tenth on the list. 

Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: "The ads that attract the highest number of complaints are often not the ones that need banning.

"Our action leads to thousands of ads being amended or withdrawn each year, mostly for being misleading. But there wasn't one misleading ad in the top ten in 2016." 

Here's the list in full, along with the number of complaints they received.

1. MoneySuperMarket (1,063)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106620","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

2. MoneySuperMarket (898)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106621","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

3. Match.com (896)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106622","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

4. MoneySuperMarket (530)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106624","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 5. Paddy Power (450)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106625","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 6. Smart Energy GB (253)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106626","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 7. Paddy Power (220)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106627","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 8. Home Office (216)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106628","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 9. Gourmet Burger Kitchen (195)

Viewers said the advert was offensive to vegetarians and vegans as it included phrases such as: "Anyone fancy a nice, juicy, 6oz lettuce?" and: "You'll always remember when you gave up being a vegetarian."

The restaurant took independent action to withdraw three of its adverts, says ITV.

10. Mars/Maltesers (151)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106629","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

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