Worst ads: Inspired Unemployed among most annoying ads of 2022

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Worst ads: Inspired Unemployed among most annoying ads of 2022

What ads gave you headaches in 2022?

Ad Standards, an Australian advertising watchdog which manages the complaint resolution process of the self-regulation advertising system in Australia, has revealed the top five ads Aussies hated most – and why.

Executive director Richard Bean said it had probed over 250 ads in 2022 that were flagged under the advertising industry codes.

Fifty ads were found to be in breach of the rules.

According to Mr Bean, sex, violence, and discrimination were all audience-perceived tools to push products in 2022.

“Australia’s advertising codes exist to make sure ads on all media are responsible and align with community standards. While most comply with the rules, there are some ads that cross the line – and that’s where we step in,” he explained.

“We’ve seen a high proportion of complaints this year about advertisers using sexual appeal or violence in their marketing campaigns which some members of the community have found offensive and unacceptable.

“We have also acted on a number of complaints that raised concerns about discrimination being depicted in advertising.”

Rude or offensive language, health and safety concerns and “distinguishable advertising” also ticked off viewers this year.

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As well as whether or not viewers approve, there is a plethora of stringent rules about advertising to children, pushing food and beverages, environmental claims, wagering and motor vehicle advertising.

In 2022, it was still the old media staple of television, drawing the lion’s share of complaints with Ad Standards also looking into cases from Instagram and on-demand TV services.

An unlikely team-up between Shaquille O’Neal and Australian social media comedy group the Inspired Unemployed spruiking PointsBet in exaggerated Aussie accents and colloquialisms drew the most heat from viewers.

Mr Bean said it elicited “a strong response” from viewers who worried it was offensive and insulting to young Australian men in particular.

But in this instance, the watchdog sided with the advertiser.

“While the Ad Standards Community Panel acknowledged these concerns, they found the ad contained self-deprecating humour which would be seen by most to celebrate Australians rather than ridicule them,” Mr Bean said.

“It was, therefore, found not in breach of the rules.”

Another unexpected team-up between Paris Hilton and the Irwins for an UberEats campaign also ruffled feathers.

Some of the 23 complaints reported it for violence, claiming one scene suggested a snake ate Hilton’s chihuahua – but those complaints were also dismissed.

There was one rule breaker, however.

Complaints against loan provider – Nimble Australia – were upheld by the watchdog.

Ads for a loan provider, food delivery service, brothel and horror movie also made the top 5 list.

The ad showed a woman talking about her son who couldn’t close his mouth, showing his mouth full of food and dribbling his drink.

According to a panel review: “The Panel considered that the advertisement did portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of disability …”

Nimble agreed to a range of edits in its response to the determination.

“Ad Standards’ role is to give a voice to the community, and we take every complaint seriously,” Mr Bean said

“Any ad found in breach of the rules must be removed or modified. Ad Standards has been upholding community standards in advertising for more than 20 years.”

“One of the strengths of Australia’s advertising self-regulatory system is the high level of industry compliance, along with the independent adjudication of complaints by the Ad Standards Community Panel – everyday Australians who reflect the diversity of Australian society.”

Top five most complained about ads in 2022

1. PointsBet – Free-to-air TV ad

• This television ad features Shaquille O’Neal and the Inspired Unemployed speaking in exaggerated ‘Aussie’ accents.

• Main concern: Discrimination or vilification

• Number of complaints: 42

• Outcome: Dismissed

2. Nimble Australia – Free-to-air TV ad

• This television ad features a man named “Bill Shock” whose mouth is wide-open throughout the ad.

• Main concern: Discrimination or vilification

• Number of complaints: 24

• Outcome: Upheld

3. Uber Eats – Free-to-air TV ad

• This television ad features Paris Hilton and the Irwin family. A scene suggests that a snake has eaten a chihuahua.

• Main concern: Violence

• Number of complaints: 23

• Outcome: Dismissed

4. Gotham City House of Sin – Billboard ad

• This billboard ad for a brothel features a woman wearing black lingerie.

• Main concern: Sex, sexuality, and nudity; exploitative or degrading sexual imagery

• Number of complaints: 21

• Outcome: Dismissed

5. Universal Pictures – Free-to-air TV ad

• This television ad promoted the film The Black Phone.

• Main concern: Violence

• Number of complaints: 18

• Outcome: Dismissed

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