The complaints process

Any person can complain about any advertisement in any media which may be in breach of the ASA Codes. Check out our short video to learn more about our process, or read on below for more detailed information.

Step 1

Check that the advertisement is within the ASA jurisdiction and whether it is breaching one or more of the Advertising Codes.

You may wish to read some of the Complaints Board’s previous Decisions.

You can read our Privacy Policy online. We don’t accept anonymous complaints. In making a complaint you agree to not pursue the complaint in any other forum and are required to sign a waiver to that effect. The waiver is to reduce the risk of people using the Complaints Board as a test process.

Step 2

Complete our Complaint Form.

Ensure you include a copy of the advertisement you are complaining about:

  • For broadcast media: The date, approximate time and channel/station on which the advertisement was played and the name of the advertiser.
  • For digital media: The URL or website address and a printout or screenshot of the relevant part of the site, or a copy of the actual advertisement.
  • For all print advertisements: A copy of the advertisement together with the name and date of the publication.
  • For billboard or outdoor advertisements: A digital image/ photo of the billboard is helpful. Other useful information includes the name of the billboard company, which is usually visible on the billboard, and its exact geographic location.

When writing your complaint, please be specific. Examples:

  • “I find the advertisement offensive because the part where it says, “ ….” demeans all young mothers ” This is much more effective that a general statement such as “I did not like this advertisement.”

  • “I believe that the claim in the advertisement, “….” is misleading because…”

Step 3

The Chair of the Complaints Board will decide whether the Board can consider the complaint. If accepted, the complaint will be sent to all parties concerned seeking their comments and you will be advised. If the Chair determines no further action is required, a ruling will be issued to parties and released to the ASA website.

Step 4

If a complaint is accepted, a copy of the complaint, the advertisement and the responses are sent to the Complaints Board. It will then determine whether the Codes have been breached and all parties will be informed of the outcome. A formal written decision is distributed to you, the parties and to the media.

Step 5

If a complaint is upheld, the advertiser, in accordance with self-regulatory principles, is required to immediately withdraw the advertisement. Additionally the media are similarly required not to publish or broadcast an advertisement which has been held by the Complaints Board to be in breach of the Codes.


All Rulings and Decisions of the Complaints Board may be appealed on certain grounds. The main grounds are new evidence, the rules of natural justice were not followed, and the Decision was against the weight of evidence. Visit this page for more details on appeals.

If any assistance is required with any of the above do not hesitate to phone us on 0800 234 357 or (04) 472 7852.