5 Of The Most Complained About TV Adverts

We love TV. We actively choose to disassociate ourselves from the real world as were always so ready to lose ourselves in a soap opera set in Yorkshire, or in a drama about the insane life of a cancer-stricken teacher. But as always, in the meantime you have to endure some horrific TV adverts.


                                                                   Image courtesy of Josh Janssen
Here are five of the most complained about ads that have actually made people want to switch their TV’s off.

1) Go Compare (2012)

You’ve probably tried to forget the irritating opera singer from the Go Compare adverts, but it would be daft to not include them on this list. Fear not though, as we are only going to look at two of the absolute worst ads from the series. PHEW!
In 2012, the marketing directors at Go Compare decided to step it up a notch; knowing that everyone was sick and tired of the opera singer, they had the ex-footballer Stuart “Psycho” Pearce and Sue Barker kick a football at him and fire a bazooka missile at his head. However, our sympathy got the best of us – both ads ended up collecting over 1,800 complaints.

2) KFC (2005)

Everyone on occasion has to speak with their mouth full. If you’re asked something, you don’t want to leave the other person waiting whilst you smack your chops and try to remove something from your teeth. It’s an awkward wait.
That doesn’t excuse a 2005 advert from KFC though, which featured two call centre workers singing about the KFC Zinger burger, all the why cramming more of the burger into their mouths. Over 1,600 people had something to say about that, yet it continued to both repulse and amuse us for months afterwards.

3) Phones 4 U (2011)

Mostly children across the country wind down after school with episodes of Adventure Time or CBBC, before they go to sleep in the early hours of the evening… not that they ever do go to sleep when they’re supposed to.
However, back in 2011, an unpleasant surprise was in store for any young viewer, if they came across the new Phones 4 U advert. Appearing to a woman in an empty car park, a demonic little girl performs that stupid hand gesture, and then whispers eerily “Missing our deals will haunt you”. The ad received 659 complaints from outraged parents of terrified children, and had a post-19:30 restriction placed on its head.

4) Marie Stopes International (2010)

There’s an infinite amount of no-go areas when it comes to television, or in fact any form of published material. Sure, you CAN show Hitler running hand-in-hand with Churchill through a meadow, but you should expect a lot of controversy and upset when you do it.
Unfortunately, a 2010 Marie Stopes International Healthcare advert, focusing on sexual health advice, was accused of promoting the most contentious subject, abortion, through its series of clips showing women late for their period. It received over 1,000 complaints, but it was not upheld – probably because it didn’t mention abortion once, and was actually very helpful.

5) Paddy Power (2012)

Most people can’t stand the fact that betting companies get to promote their services on television, enticing addicts to throw away their money whilst innocently watching Countdown. But Paddy Power takes the biscuit for being the most unpleasant, due to its series of distasteful adverts.
In 2012, one particular advert caught everyone’s attention – a blindfolded football team, called Blind Wanderers FC, are interrupted when a player mistakes a stray cat for a football… All we hear is the cat’s cry. It’s not at all funny to show or imply an animal was hurt, which is why it later received over 1,300 complaints.
Our animosity to certain adverts is awfully strange; as you can see from the list, more people denounced two women singing with their mouths full, than an advert which teased the blind community and had a cat being used as a football. Indeed, it is a conundrum, but at least now we can smile and relax, knowing that NONE of these bad adverts are still on our screens.
Do you remember a terrible advert that was not featured in this list? Then share it down below!

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License: Creative Commons
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Ben Kettlety is a writer and watches television religiously, meaning he’s had to endure many an advert that left him witha remote control-related injury. He recommends Space City.

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