News National Revealed: The TV ads that drew the most complaints
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Revealed: The TV ads that drew the most complaints

A scene depicted in Libra's controversial ad. Photo: Love Libra
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An ad showing menstrual blood for the first time on Australian television was the most complained about ad in 2019.

More than 730 people lodged complaints about the ad’s “confronting” content, making it the second most complained ad of all time.

The ad formed part of Libra’s #bloodnormal campaign aimed at challenging society’s depiction of periods as disgusting or shameful.

Some viewers were so outraged by scenes of blooding dripping down a woman’s legs in the shower and a teenager removing a pad in the bathroom that they called for those responsible to be fired.

Despite the backlash, Australia’s regulatory advertising body, Ad Standards, dismissed all of the complaints and ruled the ad did not breach the industry’s code of ethics.

In second place was a Sportsbet ad featuring a group of protestors, a victim of a Nigerian scam and disgraced rugby league player Todd Carney.

Among the 366 complaints lodged were claims of racism for portraying Nigerians as scammers and criticisms of Mr Carney, who fell from grace after a number of drunken incidents.

The complaints were dismissed by Ad Standards.

The third most complained about ad was a trailer for horror movie Us, which showed a family on holiday being terrorised by scary figures, including a masked man and a person holding scissors.

The ad racked up 244 complaints over its “violent” content, but the panel dismissed them.

Number four was an ad for Ultra Tune Australia that showed four women losing control of their pink convertible and plunging into the ocean before being rescued by actor Charlie Sheen.

Mr Sheen, who has a long history of violence against women, comments that they are all out of towels and he is “winning”.

The ad generated 161 complaints for degrading and sexualising women.

Ad Standards initially dismissed the complaints, but backflipped after an independent reviewer argued against the panel’s decision.

In fifth place was an ad by Lovehoney, a business that sells sex toys, lingerie and erotic gifts, that depicted couples lovingly embracing each other.

It received 84 complaints for concerns over sex and nudity, but all were dismissed.

Number six was an ad by Hanes Brand Inc that showed a man holding a piece of heat-detecting technology in front of men’s crotches to promote “ball cooling” underwear.

Among the 69 complaints, all dismissed, were claims the ad’s content was exploitative and degrading.

The seventh most complained about ad was for clothing company Pretty Little Thing for showing what some complainants described as “almost pornographic girls on bikes and cars” wearing “very little clothing”.

All 58 complaints were dismissed.

A billboard promoting the horror movie It: Chapter Two attracted 40 complaints and took out eighth place for being “way too scary” for children.

The advertising board upheld all 40 complaints, mostly from concerned parents and teachers, and had the billboards removed.

A billboard promoting ‘It: Chapter Two’.

Coming in at number nine was another Sportsbet ad, this one showing a beauty pageant contestant failing to explain how easy it is to use the Sportsbet app.

A graphic saying ‘foolproof’ is stamped over her neck.

The ad was slammed by 31 viewers for “taking a cheap shot at young women”.

“Time’s up on portraying women, blonde or not, as morons in advertising,” said one viewer.

The complaints were upheld and the ad was pulled from Australian screens.

Number 10 was taken out by a Facebook advertisement published by a New South Wales hamburger restaurant, Downtown Brooklyn Penrith.

Of the 29 people who complained, one said the ad “made fun of people with life-threatening food allergies” and was “highly offensive”.

🍨 REESE'S WHATTT? 🍨Get those Epipen's ready, because this is going to be worth it! Churro Bowls are out and Reese's…

Posted by Downtown Brooklyn Penrith on Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The restaurant issued a mock apology in response to the outrage.

Ad Standards dismissed the complaints.

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