Against the advert - The most complained about adverts of 2017

It is well known that the UK is home to a unique and finely tuned population of complainers. The weather, work, the government, traffic, the government, snow and the government are just some of the topics we enjoy animatedly venting about from Monday to Sunday (Sunday with the added complaint of how the supermarket had the audacity to sell out of Yorkshire Puddings). 

However being the well versed, cultured and TV obsessed country that we are it has also been noticed by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) that our ability to complain can even be targeted at TV adverts. So ‘Desert Island Disc’ style the ASA kindly listed the order of 2017’s most complained about adverts enabling people like myself to now complain about the complaints list and the people who complained, well my week just got better!

So here we go, sit back and get into that complacent headspace that occurs when someone walks too slowly in front of you or when the computer won’t connect to the printer EVEN THOUGH IT’S RIGHT NEXT TO IT! 

I’m going to start with the 10th most complained about advert of 2017; Mars, Maltesers. I’m sure you’ve seen this one but if you haven’t it features a disabled women describing a sexual experience to her gal pals. Now even though this was shown at 9pm and was clearly meant to champion diversity it failed miserably and received 92 complaints. It should be 93 complaints actually because I am about to add my hatred of this advert to the pile, here we go…


 I have never seen anything that has made me want to rip out my eyes and stuff them in my ears more in my life! The way this advert was done made my skin crawl and left my whole family staring in opposite directions cringing (which hasn’t happened since we made the mistake of watched Game of Thrones as a family!) Don’t get me wrong I am all for adverts that included people with disabilities but this advert did nothing to benefit the disabled. The adverts failure has nothing to do with the woman’s disability, the story in general is just uncomfortable to hear when you’re not expecting it and when you’re sat with your family. Therefore I completely agree with the 92 people who complained about the advert and didn’t find it ‘light-hearted’ just uncomfortable to view and wrong for an advert that was given £1m worth of free ad space in order to promote diversity.    

An advert that I was shocked to see on the top ten list was the Money Supermarket Advert with the dancing men in shorts and heels, come on that advert is hilarious… isn’t it? You must know the one I’m talking about, with the accountants and the builders having their dance off in the street like some kind of rogue version of Strictly Come Dancing. Yet it was the 2nd most complained about advert with a surprising 455 complaints. Well personally I think the advert deserved 455 compliments not complaints but people claimed that it was ‘overtly sexual’ because of the ‘suggestive’ dance moves.

So let me get this straight, very ordinary looking middle aged men dressed in unflattering denim shirts and black stilettos is suggestive and sexy? Look out ladies, forget Brad Pitt and Poldark the real hunks are in town! How anyone can say those dance moves were too much when we share the planet with Miley Cyrus and there are 1,100,000 videos on YouTube of how to Twerk is beyond me. We experience suggestive dancing as much as the UK experiences rain, both are unescapable, unless you set up a tent in the desert. Therefore I am voting the Money Supermarket advert as Funny and Flirty not Rude and Dirty. 

The advert that achieved the number one spot on the ASA complaint list was the KFC ‘The Whole Chicken’ advert which received a ‘whole’ lot of complaints at 755. If you haven’t seen this advert it consists of a chicken strutting (similarly to the Money Supermarket men) to a rap song. It’s very skilfully done and is entertaining, however then you realise it’s for KFC and the reality of what is later going to happen to that confident chicken sets in. Although the advert doesn’t end with the chicken losing its head, those who complained still argued it was distressing. I’m in two minds about this advert. On the one hand (the hand I use to hold my KFC chicken drum stick) we all know that KFC use chicken and to do that, chickens have to die; so do we really have a right to be outraged when our food source is shown to us in its BKFC (Before KFC) state? 





On the other hand (the hand I stroke my cat with) I like animals and even though I am not vegetarian and frequently eat meat I don’t like thinking too hard about the animals that I am eating and prefer to bury my head in the sand… or in an all you can eat meat buffet. The advert reminded me slightly of how I felt watching that old classic Chicken Run. I knew that my food came from animals but actually seeing those defenceless chickens in such distress as they tried to escape while being killed off was traumatising! I still can’t believe that’s a children’s film. To be honest, that scene when you see the shadow as the chicken gets beheaded... there are horror films less horrendous! 

I know, I know it’s just a film (a phrase I constantly repeated to myself while I watching it) but this KFC advert reminds everyone that actually, chickens do die just so we can eat. 

So I can understand that for those whose empathy for animals prevents them from going near meat, the advert would be distressing. A vegan or vegetarian must watch that advert and only consider that the poor chicken was probably given its five minutes of fame before getting the chop and I bet they made up a large amount of the people who complained. So I think with this advert complaints are understandable especially from vegetarians and vegans but the advert was only trying to convey a message that KFC uses the whole chicken and they did it the most tactful way they could think of. After all, you can never please everyone… as I’m sure we will see again with a new ASA list in 2018.