Adverts featuring twerking businessmen in high heels and shorts and blind footballers kicking cats were among the most complained-about commercials of 2016.
MoneySuperMarket dominated the top ten – none of which were banned – with its three ads featuring Gary the dancing bodyguard and the twerking businessman Dave and his builder rival Colin.
The three ads received a combined 2,491 complaints from offended viewers who found Gary’s dance moves “distasteful” and argued that the ads featuring Dave and Colin could be seen to be homophobic and could encourage hate crimes.
Match.com’s ad showing a woman removing her female partner’s top and passionately kissing her received 896 complaints from viewers who believed it was sexually explicit and inappropriately scheduled.
Paddy Power’s ad featuring blindfolded men playing football was first shown in 2010, when it generated more than 1,000 complaints, and its re-run last year drew another 450 submissions to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ASA originally ruled that the ad had not broken the rules and the majority of viewers would see it as humorous and not humiliating or undermining to blind people, and so did not reinvestigate it last year.
Completing the list was Smart Energy’s ad featuring cartoon characters Gaz and Leccy, the Home Office’s ‘Disrespect Nobody’ ad about domestic violence, an ad for Maltesers featuring a woman in a wheelchair and a series of ads for Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which made references to giving up vegetarianism.
The ASA found that none of the ten ads “crossed the line” between bad taste and offence. ASA chief executive Guy Parker 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.”