10 most complained about ads of 2014



The three most complained about ads of all time – by Paddy Power, Bookings.com and The Sun -appear in the Advertising Standard’s Authority’s (ASA) 2014 most complained about list.

1)   Paddy Power  – 5, 525 complaints

Oscar Pistorious Paddy Power

The ASA banned this national press ad as it encouraged consumers to bet on the outcome of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial. Complaints suggested that the ad caused serious offence as it trivialised the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability.


2)   Booking.com BV – 1, 768 complaints


The ad drew complaints for encouraging bad language amongst children for replacing the word “booking” in place of a swear word.  The ASA did not uphold the complaints stating that the ad simply showed “a light hearted play on words”.


3)   News UK & Ireland/ The Sun – 1,711 complaints

The Sun

Subscribers of The Sun’s Dream Team fantasy football competition received emails featuring a prize draw to win a Page 3 model. The ASA upheld the complaints that the email was offensive and irresponsible for presenting women as objects to be won.


4)   Sainsbury’s in association with The Royal British Legion – 823 complaints

Sainsbury’s Christmas TV ads drew complaints for its use of a story based on the 1914 Christmas Day truce during the First World War. Complainants objected to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket.


5)   Save the Children – 614 complaints

The ad featured a woman giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife and prompted complaints that the scenes were offensive and inappropriately timed.


6)   Waitrose – 267 complaints

Waitrose amended the ad that initially claimed ‘Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose’, after the ASA agreed with complainants that it is misleading. Some Waitrose services, such as cleaning, are outsourced.


7)   Must Have/ VIP Electronic Cigarettes – 199 complaints

The ads drew complaints for glamourising and promoting the use of tobacco products. The ASA did not uphold the complaints.


8)   TADServices/ uk-passport.net – 188 complaints

The website received complaints that it gave the false impression of being a government site. The complaints led to an industry wide campaign to support the Government awareness campaign #StartAtGOVUK, which warns those looking for official services to start at GOV.UK and avoid misleading websites.


9)   Unilever UK

The Flora Buttery ad shows two children walking in to their parents ‘wrestling’ as they try to serve them breakfast in bed. Complaints suggested that the material was offensive and unsuitable for children. As the ad did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, the ASA did not uphold the complaints.


10)  IQ Channels/ a passport-uk.co.uk



The website received complaints for implying it was Government site, as well as having unclear terms and conditions.