These are the 10 most complained about ads of 2017

These are the 10 most complained about ads of 2017

If there's one thing that pretty much everyone on the planet enjoys, it's complaining. Whether it's moaning about public transport, leaving negative reviews on Amazon products, or relaying details of your housemate's antics to your colleagues, we simply cannot resist an opportunity to share the negative opinions we have.

Unsurprisingly, then, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) receives thousands of complaints every year from viewers who have deemed certain commercials to be offensive. Sometimes those claims are upheld, and the advertisements are banned, and other times they're simply ignored, and the complainants are written off as being overly-sensitive or prude.

With that in mind, here are the top ten most complained-about commercials from last year.

10. Maltesers

In this ad, a woman described a sexual encounter with her boyfriend, which she then artfully illustrated using a bag of Maltesers. To most people, it was just a funny (if not slightly cheeky) way of marketing the product - but nearly 100 people took time out of their day to complain that it was too crude.

9. Macmillan Cancer Support

With cancer being a particularly difficult topic to talk about, it's understandably also a tricky subject to include in advertisements. Macmillan, a charity which helps people affected by cancer, tried to demonstrate the reality of the illness in order to encourage more people to donate to the cause - but the graphic images of someone vomiting, crying, and receiving chemotherapy was too upsetting for some viewers.

8. O2

No matter how much progress is made in the way of equal rights for people of all genders and sexualities, there will always be a small group of folks who are stuck in the dark ages of social acceptance. One advert from O2, which showed less than a second of two men kissing, got 125 complaints for being "too explicit" (yet nobody seems to complain when it's a straight couple).

7. Curry's PC World

As you can probably guess, many of the people who complain about adverts tend to be from older generations. Whether that's because younger folks are more accepting or simply too busy eating avocado toast to care is another matter entirely - but the divide in generations reflects in the complaints expressed. This advert attracted some criticism because it suggested that a "traditional" Christmas around the fireplace was boring, whereas a modern holiday celebration - in which people just sat around the TV rather than speaking to one another - was how it should be.

6. V.I.Poo

This product is designed to eliminate poop odors from the bathroom. The commercial addressed this. Need I say more?

5. McDonald's

Considering how huge McDonald's marketing team must be, you'd think they would manage to avoid controversies like this. But, when they aired a commercial which supposedly "trivialized grief" by showing a young boy and his mom dealing with the loss of his father through a fillet o fish meal (ok, when you put it that way, it does sort of sound bad), they received so many complaints that the ad was pulled.


Over the two years it's been on TV, one particular advert for has attracted over 1,200 complaints. Like most other adverts for the dating site, the commercial shows a couple sharing an intimate moment. So why did this one attract so much negative attention? Oh yeah, because it was two women.

3. Dove

In an attempt to win favor from moms, Dove created a series of adverts that addressed the issue of breastfeeding in public. However, some people believed it encouraged neglecting babies, while others disagreed with the language that was used to describe breasts. The campaign was eventually pulled, and the ads are no longer on their website.

2. Moneysupermarket

For the third year in a row, one campaign from Moneysupermarket has been in the top 10 list for most complained-about adverts - and it's all because of some men wearing heels. Hundreds of people called up to say the advert was "overtly sexual" (presumably individuals who have never seen a perfume commercial), but the ASA decided that, in fact, it was totally fine.

1. KFC

Vegetarians, vegans, and chicken-sympathizers alike: look away now. This advert was found to be the most controversial of 2017, as it showed a chicken dancing - seemingly carefree - before a voiceover came in to let the viewers know that the happy little lady was on her way to becoming someone's dinner.

While one or two of these commercials might have upset some people, a lot of the complaints seem like extreme overreactions. If you don't want to see it, you know where the remote is.