A campaign for fast food chain KFC, featuring a chicken dancing as it headed to slaughter, has topped the list of 2017’s most complained-about ads.
It attracted 755 complaints that it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians, vegans and children.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) did not ban it after deciding it did not include any explicit references to animal slaughter and was therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
KFC campaign (ASA/PA)The ASA received a total of 29,997 complaints about ads last year.
Only two of the 10 ads that attracted the most complaints were removed from media – one for Dove, discussing breastfeeding in public, and the second for McDonald’s, featuring a boy and his mother talking about his dead father – with both companies swiftly cutting short the campaigns themselves in response to public outcry.
The ASA decided that each of the remaining eight ads had not crossed the line on offensiveness and so did not uphold the complaints.
Two of the most complained-about campaigns also featured in 2016’s top 10 list – a Match.com ad showing a lesbian couple kissing passionately and an ad for Maltesers featuring a woman who described having a spasm during a romantic encounter with her boyfriend.
MoneySuperMarket.com appears in the top 10 for the third year running with its campaign featuring twerking builders, with 455 complaints that it was overtly sexual and possibly homophobic making it the second most complained-about ad of 2017.
Others making the top 10 featured a fictional Hollywood starlet using the V.I.Poo toilet air freshener, an ad for Currys PC World which drew complaints that it equated Christmas with watching TV instead of Christianity, an O2 ad featuring two men kissing, and a Macmillan Cancer Support campaign that showed a father receiving chemotherapy, vomiting in a sink and crying in a car.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Tackling misleading ads continues to be the bread and butter of our work, but 2017 again showed that it is ads that have the potential to offend that attract the highest numbers of complaints.
“But multiple complaints don’t necessarily mean that an ad has fallen on the wrong side of the line. We look carefully at the audience, the context and prevailing societal standards informed by public research before we decide.”