Moneysupermarket’s twerking businessman in high heels and Paddy Power’s cat-kicking blind footballers were some of the most-complained-about ads of 2016.
Moneysupermarket’s dancing bodyguard Gary, twerking businessman Dave and dancing builder Colin were all in the top 10, the advertising watchdog said.
The Paddy Power advert was first shown in 2010 but still drew 450 complaints.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said none on the list “crossed the line” from bad taste to offence.
Three Moneysupermarket price comparison website adverts attracted 2,491 complaints between them.
Some viewers found the bodyguard’s dance moves “distasteful”, and the ads with the businessman and the builder as homophobic.
Top 10 number of complaints
- 1. MoneySuperMarket.com (dancing bodyguard) 1,063
- 2. MoneySuperMarket.com (gang dance-off) 898
- 3. Match.com (kissing women) 896
- 4. MoneySuperMarket.com (solo dance-off) 530
- 5. Paddy Power (blind football) 450
- 6. Smart Energy GB (Gaz and Leccy) 253
- 7. Paddy Power (Scotland fans) 220
- 8. Home Office (domestic violence) 216
- 9. Gourmet Burger Kitchen (vegetarianism) 195
- 10. Mars/Maltesers (disability) 151
Source: Advertising Standards Authority
An advert for dating website Match.com showing a woman removing her female partner’s top and kissing her received 896 complaints.
It was seen as sexually explicit and inappropriately scheduled.
The Paddy Power advert featured men playing blind football and inadvertently kicking a cat due to the sound of a bell round its neck.
The ASA had already ruled the majority of viewers would see the advert as humorous and not humiliating or undermining to blind people, and so did not investigate it again.
The bookmaker’s advert about Scottish football fans not minding not qualifying for Euro 2016 – because they could bet on England to lose – was complained about for being racist and anti-English.
Also in the top 10 were Smart Energy’s Gaz and Leccy cartoon characters, the Home Office’s Disrespect Nobody domestic violence campaign, Maltesers featuring a woman in a wheelchair and Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s references to giving up vegetarianism.
The complaint about the Home Office’s ad was that it implied only men were responsible for domestic abuse and it could discourage male victims from coming forward.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “The ads that attract the highest number of complaints are often not the ones that need banning.
“Our action leads to thousands of ads being amended or withdrawn each year, mostly for being misleading, but there wasn’t one misleading ad in the top 10.
“In the list there are a number of ads, which while advertising their product or service, have also sought to present a positive statement about diversity but were in fact seen by some as doing the opposite.
“In all those cases, we thought people generally would see the ads in a positive light and that the boundary between bad taste and serious or widespread offence had been navigated well enough, often through using sensible scheduling restrictions.”
A Moneysupermarket campaign also topped the most-complained-about list in 2015.