John McLellan: The most annoying TV ads

An advert for V.I.Poo was one of the most complained about in 2017. (Picture: ASA/PA)
An advert for V.I.Poo was one of the most complained about in 2017. (Picture: ASA/PA)
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If you got hot under the collar about KFC’s dancing chickens or those irritating Moneysupermarket men dancing in hot pants and heels then you are not alone. There were the two most complained-about TV adverts in the UK last year.

Published overnight by the Advertising Standards Authority, the list of the top ten problem adverts reveals that taste and decency is by far the biggest cause for complaint rather than inaccuracy or misleading claims. Two were withdrawn before an ASA ruling, but none of the other eight cases were upheld.

The KFC ad was top with 755 complaints, on the grounds it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians and vegans. Moneysupermarket.com was next, with 455 people upset by what they felt was overtly sexual and borderline homophobic.

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And for those who complained about a VI Poo air freshener ad because of a reference to “devil’s dumplings”, the phrase “get a life” springs to mind. It’s not hard to argue the complainants needed a somewhat thicker skin, but for sheer crass insensitivity it’s difficult to beat a McDonalds commercial which depicted a boy whose father had died being cheered up by his mum with a filet-o-fish. Realising the blunder, the fast food chain withdrew the ad and apologised.

From some of these productions, it seems the biggest danger to the companies is not complainants but their creative agencies and I wonder if whoever thought a grieving boy would encourage more people to visit McDonalds is still working for them.

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