Most Complained About Ads in 2017

We have released our official list of the ads that attracted the most complaints last year. Here are 2017’s five most complained about ads:

#1: Frucor Suntory NZ Ltd, Television Advertisement 


The ‘V Energy’ ad showed a construction worker on a building site. At 3pm two small human characters appear and distract the worker, with one jumping into the wet concrete. The worker drinks a ‘V’ before picking up a nail gun and firing it at the small humans. Eighteen complaints raised two issues about safety. Complainants were worried aiming the nail gun could be easily emulated. Others raised concerns about jumping into wet concrete. The Advertiser agreed to remove the nail gun scene and that part of the complaints was settled. The complaints relating to the concrete scene were Upheld as the advertisement depicted a dangerous practice with the potential to encourage a disregard for safety, in breach of the Code of Ethics. The Complaints Board agreed the level of exaggeration or fantasy in the ad was not sufficient to save it.

#2: Village Roadshow Ltd, Annabelle 2 Movie Trailer, Television Advertisement


The television advertisement trailer for the movie Annabelle 2 showed various clips from the movie, including dark scenes of scary dolls, children levitating and being thrown across the room and dragged away. Complainants were concerned the advertisement contained images which were not suitable for the screening times. The Chair confirmed the advertisement’s rating had been changed. The movie trailer now has an AO (Adult Only) rating. The Chair ruled the complaints were settled.

#3: Reckitt Benkiser (NZ) Ltd V.I POO, television advertisement


The television advertisement for V.I. Poo toilet spray features a Hollywood-style star attending a film premiere. She says to camera “to avoid embarrassment I give every toilet the V. I. Poo treatment. V.I. Poo forms a protective layer trapping the icky smell of your devil’s doughnuts.”
Complainants said the advertisement was inappropriate, offensive and disgusting. The Chair said the advertisement used humour to deal with a socially uncomfortable subject, toilet odour. The Chair said while some viewers may find the advertisement unpleasant and distasteful, the level of offensiveness did not reach the threshold required to breach the Code of Ethics. The Chair ruled there were no grounds for the complaints to proceed.

#4. Spark Ltd, television advertisement


The television advertisement for Spark featured a young boy in various situations without his father around Father’s Day. The next morning the young boy takes breakfast to his mother with a card that said “Happy Father’s Day Mum” on the front. Complainants said the advertisement discriminated against fathers and perpetuated derogatory stereotypes about absent fathers. The Complaints Board said the advertisement depicted a loving relationship between a mother and son and included positive representations of other fathers. It said the advertisement made no suggestion of why the young boy’s father was not present on Father’s Day and did not present a derogatory stereotype of a ‘deadbeat’ father and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. The complaints were Not Upheld.

#5. ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd, television advertisement


The ANZ television advertisement shows two children crawling into a shed and watching sunlight filter through the roof. While the children are looking up one asks “How many stars do you think there are?” The other replies “Heaps”. While they are looking at the roof, one child punches the other on the arm. Complainants were concerned the advertisement condoned violence with one child punching the other. The Chair said the advertisement was promoting a bank and a home loan interest rate and was not targeted at children. The Chair ruled there were no grounds for the complaints to proceed.