The ad by sexual health charity Marie Stopes International (MSI) was aired at 10.10pm on Channel 4 during The Million Pound Drop Live, with the exception of Northern Ireland because the province is the only part of the UK where the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply.
The broadcasting watchdog says that after the ad’s transmission to the rest of UK, 83 people complained directly to their offices arguing that it breached broadcasting guidelines.
These complaints were in addition to the over 370 people who have contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to register their objection to the ad.
Ofcom and the ASA will now study the complaints to see if they need to launch fuller investigations into the matter.
A spokesman for the ASA says that the watchdog will now assess the “vast volume” of complaints received and see “what steps if any we take next”.
A proposed change to the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice code that would allow TV ads explicitly promoting abortion services, or “post-conception” advice, to air has been referred to Ofcom ahead of a final decision following thousands of responses.
Marie Stopes says it created the “ground breaking commercial” after independent research showed that only 42% of UK adults stated that they would know where to go for specialist advice.