The votes are in, the count has been checked and verified and today, the ASA has published the list of 2014′s top ten most complained about adverts. However, what marks 2014 apart as a groundbreaking year for advertising shock value is the news that the top three in this list are also the top three adverts based on number of complaints of all time. Well done advertisers.
So, without further pause for dramatic effect, the winners are:
#1 Paddy Power and THAT Oscar Pistorious ad.
Hardly likely to be a surprise, Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorious ad was generally found to be in poor taste, drawing a record 5525 complaints to the ASA, which is more than three times the complaints levied against #2. While the ad, which offered a ‘money back if he walks’ guarantee for bets placed on the verdict of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, was a clever pun , the ASA found that it caused serious offence by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability, and pulled the ad immediately. Paddy Power were also berated for bringing “advertising into disrepute.”
1,768 people complained about this ad (although more complaints are still coming in in 2015) which jovially replaced the word ‘booking’ for a profanity in a TV and cinema ad. While many claimed the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children, the ASA did not uphold the complaints, judging that it was a light hearted play on words that couldn’t be mistaken for an actual swear word.
In a characteristic show of common sense, the ASA also ruled that it was unlikely to encourage swearing amongst children as any children that did pick up on the joke were unlikely to have learned bad language through the ad itself.
#3 The Sun’s prize of a bra-less lady
Just pipped into third spot at 1,711 complaints was the Sun’s genius idea to offer a date with a page 3 model as a prize in a fantasy football competition.
Despite the likely numerous Sun readers rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of such a prize, the ASA decided that offering a date with a woman as a reward for success in the game was demeaning to women and objectified those offered as prizes. They took especial note of the wording “we might even let you pick which one, so feel free to start your research now …”, considering it “further enhanced the impression that the women were simply objects to be selected at the whim and enjoyment of the winner, and had no choice in the matter themselves.”
The ad was banned on the grounds that it was “sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible” and objectified women.
#4 Sainsbury’s Christmas advert
You’re surprised at this one aren’t you, with many people suggesting that Sainsbury’s actually managed to out-John Lewis in the schmaltzy Christmas advert stakes in 2014. However 823 complaints were lodged against this advert, mostly objecting to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket. While acknowledging that some found the ad to be in poor taste, the ASA did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.
#5 Save the Children
This charity appeal advert showing a women giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife spawned 614 complaints that the scenes were offensive, distressing and inappropriately scheduled. One wonders how such people thought they arrived into the world. However, the ASA showed them short shrift and did not uphold the complaints, saying the ad’s post 9 pm scheduling restriction appropriately reduced the risk of younger viewers seeing the ads and causing distress. Because adults should be able to cope with the facts of actual life.
#6 Waitrose Ltd
267 people had an issue with a TV ad that claimed ‘Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose’ as some things, like cleaning, were outsourced, meaning the cleaners did not, in fact, own Waitrose. This one never went as far as getting a ruling though, Waitrose amended the ad once concerns were raised.
The ASA received 199 complaints that two VIP e-cigarette TV ads glamourised and promoted the use of tobacco products. The ASA did not uphold the complaints about glamourisation, but did consider the ads depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking.
#8 www. uk-passport.net
The 188 complaints against this site formed part of a sector-wide investigation into copycat websites. The work included commissioning consumer research and taking action across the sector to remove misleading claims, imagery and emblems. It also involved supporting the Government awareness campaign #StartAtGOVUK, which warns those looking for official services to start at GOV.UK to avoid misleading websites.
#9 Flora Buttery
This animated TV and YouTube ad for Flora Buttery showed two children making breakfast in bed for their parents and walking in on their parents ‘wrestling’. The ASA received 183 complaints that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to see. While the ASA acknowledged that while the ad was suggestive, it did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, and so was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers.
Another part of the ‘copycat website’ investigation, this site drew 177 complaints.
The ASA also said that the rise of social media, which has allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns about ads is the reason for the rise in complaints, leading to the top three most complained about ads ever all falling in 2014. Many of the complaints about the Paddy Power ad and the third most-complained about ad (The Sun’s ‘Win a Date with a Page 3 Model’) were coordinated via the online petition site, change.org. And while most of the ads that prompt high numbers of complaints do so on the grounds of Mary Whitehouse style offence, most of the hundreds of millions of ads that appear each year don’t raise concern. Where they do, it’s mostly in relation to misleading claims, which make up around 75% of all cases received by the ASA.
Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive, said: “2014 was the year social media came into its own in making it easier than ever to lodge complaints en masse. While some ads will inevitably split opinion, as the diverse nature of complaints we received shows, last year underlined the importance of our work in cracking down on misleading ads, including copycat websites, that are simply unfair to consumers.”
Apart from, it seems, if you work for the Krispy Kreme in Hull, where some bright spark created an event called ‘KKK Wednesday’ as part of their calendar of activities. KKK Wednesdays, of course, were designed to keep Hull’s children entertained during the half-term.
So, while the children of the North can enjoy colouring-in on Colouring Tuesday, on a Wednesday, there’s a delightful course in white supremacy and lynching for little Jemima and Frankie. You can imagine the kids might be taught which wood is best to use for a burning cross and which methods are best for tying nooses while your hands are cold.
Krispy Kreme shared their image on Facebook to let everyone know about the events going on, which means that a whole team of people missed the glaring ‘KKK’ they were accidentally promoting. Social media, naturally, were quick to spot it and point out the error.
Have a look at it. There it is. ‘KKK Wednesday’.
A Krispy Kreme spokesperson told the Mirror that the company apologises “unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores”.
“All material has been withdrawn and an internal investigation is currently underway.”
If you aren’t a seven year old girl, or you don’t watch Saturday morning kids television, you might be forgiven for not having heard of Lelli Kelly shoes. For the uninitiated, if you imagine someone has ground up a unicorn in a blender, swallowed it, and then vomited the contents up onto a pair of trainers, you might get close to imagining what Lelli Kelly shoes look like. However, matters of taste aside, Lelli Kelly have recently been investigated by the ASA over an ad that was accused of being misleading.
In addition to rainbow diarrhoea shoes, Lelli Kelly also do a line in school shoes and boots, which are mostly patent leather but which can be jazzed up by the addition of straps and buckles and of sparkly jewels to the outside of the footwear. After all, a girl can never have too many jewels. Nevertheless, a lack of blanket glitter coverage was not the reason for the complaint to the ASA. A recent advertising campaign by Lelli Kelly was even offering miniature fashionistas the opportunity to get a free gift of a diamond bracelet that matched the diamonds on the boots. Amazing. Unfortunately, a number of viewers complained to the ASA as it transpired that the diamond bracelet on offer was not actually made of diamonds, but was cheaper plastic sparkly stuff, just like on the shoes. Which were not studded with real diamonds either, it turns out. There were also complaints that the advert “took advantage” of the “credulity” of children.
Now, whatever your opinion on Lelli Kelly shoes themselves, or their inhumane treatment of unicorns, you are probably feeling a modicum of sympathy for them for being rapped by the ASA for offering fake diamond bracelets, when anyone with half a brain would have known the bracelets were not made of real diamonds. However, your sympathies would be misplaced, as the ASA also believe that only a muppet would have thought you could get a ‘real’diamond bracelet freewith a pair of children’s shoes.
Of course, they didn’t put it quite like that. The ASA decision took into account the selling price of the shoes (between £49.90 and £74.90. Yes. For children’s shoes) and “considered that adults, who would make a decision on whether to purchase the product, would understand from those visuals, the reference to the studs and the fact they came free with a pair of children’s boots, that the bracelet did not include real diamonds.”
Hurrah for the ASA. However, there is a serious point, which is that the ASA has to investigate all complaints even if only made by one person (the Lelli Kelly complaint had six idiots)- regardless of whether said complainant is several sandwiches short of a picnic or not…
Hip hop, thanks to being so fantastically successful, is hugely lampoonable, which means the whole genre is a marketing team’s dream. Not only do they think it is easy to make passable raps, but they also think it lends them immediate credibility, which is why there are so many awful marketing team hip hop parodies out there.
Samsung were the last lot to have a stab at it, and now we find HTC at it, making a tune that looks to start beef with other mobile makers, including Some White Guy throwing ironic gang shapes.
And so, let us listen to their attempt at being razor sharp.
Aiming lyrical daggers at their rivals, Apple and Samsung, we hear that HTC holds ‘the crown’ and that the company ‘can’t be beat’ and other self-aggrandising business.
However, while that is perfectly ignorable, there’s some hugely clunky lines in there. Doc G (once of PM Dawn no less) spits about “Peter Chou” before going H.A.M. about how the ”internal battery’s strong” and the ”extreme power saving mode”, over an ATL-esque stripclub beat.
Then there’s the in-your-face; ”more than a few clowns stole what we originated. We own the universe, your Galaxy is overrated!” coupled with; “your phone was all glass – why you change your tune now? Your chip is slower but you’ll never touch our BoomSound”.
Seeing as Doc G was in PM Dawn, he could’ve at least done a pun about being set adrift on “memory bliss” or something. Honestly – what is this world?
If you’re completely daft, you can download the song too.
Some people say the best kind of advertising is free, and with the widespread (good and bad) media coverage of the launch of the new NS&I Pensioner Bonds, you could be forgiven for thinking that you must have been living under a rock to have not heard about them. However, it seems the boffins at NS&I have developed an alternative view, and have spent millions advertising these bonds that were, even before launch, already expected to sell out. Genius.
The eagerly anticipated market-leading Over-65 Bonds were launched two weeks ago, to a flurry of media attention, including complaints over a website that couldn’t handle the high traffic generated. Already, more than 10% of the £10bn Treasury funding has been allocated, and the rest of the bonds are expected to be snapped up over the next few months. Why then has NS&I spent £2million trying to direct even more visitors to the creaking website?
It sounds madness but NS&I do have their reasons- although whether these reasons are worth £2m is perhaps debatable. NS&I said part of the advertising spend was to direct people to the website as the easiest method of investing- presumably despite the problems- as people might otherwise think postal or telephone investment (which presumably costs NS&I more to administer) was the only way to do it. NS&I are also looking to attract those who wouldn’t normally be an NS&I investor with their adverts. While wanting everyone to get a piece of the high-interest action is perhaps a noble aim, those with thousands of poundsof spare cash to tie up for three years are likely to read the paper and/or be on the lookout for market leading rates anyway, surely…
A spokesman for the state-owned savings bank said it had spent “about £2m” on marketing the bonds adding insult to injury by saying: “The launch of the Pensioner Bonds has proved hugely popular, with the biggest opening sales of any retail financial product in Britain’s modern history.”
However, the bank went on to say that it is “keen to ensure that potential customers, including non-NS&I customers, are aware of the market-leading rates on offer.”
£2 million well spent then…
A new website, called onthemarket.com has launched and any agent that signs up to it does so on the condition that they can’t list on the other two biggest sites. Zoopla and Rightmove get around 100 million hits each month.
The new property website has been set up by consortium of estate agents. Its founders, Agents’ Mutual, which is made up of Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker and the London firms Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates, claim more than 4,000, or one in four, agents have signed up to the site and more are being recruited.
Onthemarket will give members the chance to fix a monthly fee for listing properties for five years, and also allows agents to control their costs against the increasing fees of Zoopla and Rightmove.
This new comparison site is trying to garner a competitive edge by encouraging agents to put their properties on its portal 48 hours before listing with rivals. It’s all a bit edgy, this estate agent lark.
Ian Springett, chief executive of onthemarket.com, reckons: “We will showcase hundreds of thousands of UK properties for sale and to let and will immediately become a ‘must-view’ portal because the vast majority of these properties will have been removed from Rightmove or Zoopla/Primelocation so OnTheMarket.com will have a unique inventory of properties.”
“Success in selling is not just about listing on as many property websites as possible, it is also attributable to an agent’s expertise, contacts and overall marketing mix.”
Over at Zoopla, Lawrence Hall says that he expects the newcomer to have a “short-term impact” on his website, and described onthemarket.com as “regressive”.
It “creates the biggest conflict of interest ever to exist between estate agents and their clients, who now have to think very carefully about which agents are looking after the homeowner, versus which are looking after their own interests.”
The world of buying and renting – it is all about to see more shade being thrown than RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The social network braindump is travelling the globe in a bid to encourage developers to build apps using Twitter data. This follows last year’s announcement that Twitter were launching a mobile devlopment platform called Fabric, which is supposed to make it easy for developers to create their own apps.
Fabric features a suite of tools that enable developers to monitor the stability of their apps, embed streams of tweets, verify users’ identities using phone number sign-in, and monetise their apps via the MoPub platform. Money! Everyone likes money.
Twitter will be roaming Earth offering all of these tools to developers for free, and making it extremely simple for developers to embed them into their apps.
Already, the likes of Spotify, McDonalds and the Wall Street Journal have come aboard using elements of Fabric to improve their performance and engagement.
There’ll be a series of half-day events in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangalore and Sao Paolo. The London event will be on February 19th.
Twitter’s director of mobile platform Jeff Siebert said: “The mobile market is very much dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android. Where we’re different is we want to look across both of them, and we’re hoping to provide the tools that solve developer challenges no matter what platform they’re developing for.”
The company has also announced its first worldwide startup contest, called Hatch, which gives winners the opportunity to meet with potential investors and win cash to fund their projects.
“Our goal is to make developing apps as an individual as easy and powerful as if you have a large development team at a big enterprise,” said Siebert. ”While we obviously care about the big brands, our passion is enabling these small independent developers to build equally incredible experiences with just a few lines of code.”
Everybody can have incredible experiences with a few lines of… oh sorry, they said CODE.
Yes, that’s right, ahead of Burns Night which celebrates the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns on 25 January, the cheery supermarket will offer up bargain tartan kilts, ‘leather’ sporrans, and ghillie shirts ahead of Burns Night as it looks to “help everyone celebrate in proper Scottish style”.
OH GOD! YES! AYE!
They’re in store from January 15th across the chain’s 610 stores and available in two separate tartans – although you’ll probably have to read up on it – cost just £29.99, while a shirt is just under £12 and a leather sporran can be picked up for £10.
That’s some fresh garms on the cheap there, which even we’re tempted by – we’ve got the legs for one, apparently. We’ve always enjoyed having a bit of Scottish in us too.
Lidl’s non-food buying manager Josie Stone said: “This fantastic range, at unbelievably low prices, will give everyone the chance to celebrate Burns Night in proper Scottish style, whilst showcasing Scotland’s proud heritage and traditions.”
“Highland wear can often be unaffordable to many, costing hundreds of pounds, so it’s great to be able to offer an 8 Yard Kilt for under £30.”
Ikea have come up with quite a clever advert as part of their ‘Wonderful Everyday’ campaign.
The ad sees flocks of t-shirts migrate back to homes with stylish Ikea storage solutions. It’s quite good. Have a butchers below. The 60-second ‘Joy of Storage’ commercial hits screens on 10th January across the UK and Ireland before print, digital and outdoor in the following weeks.
Ikea UK and Ireland marketing manager, Peter Wright, explained that the brand wants to move people’s thoughts away from seeing storage as simply a functional part of the home.
And he’s spouted a load of guff to back this up.
“Whether you have a detached house in the country or a one-bed flat in town, we know that there is joy and satisfaction in giving the things you love a home, whatever your storage needs are. The Joy of Storage is about the time saved and the stress reduced when you have things easily to hand, stored out of sight, or the freedom you get when things are in order.”
Freedom, everyone. FREEDOM.
However, it’s their thing, and they’re continuing to go with it, as they’ve announced that the mockumentary style adverts that spoof animal rescue scenarios, are to return despite all the complaints they had when it was first aired 18 months ago.
They’ve done a teaser advert, which bugles the return of the mockumentary which detailed jars of Marmite being re-homed and rescued from the backs of kitchen cupboards.
The short film jokingly lays bare the cruelty from “repeat offenders” that has lead to a resurgence of neglect of the brand just 18 months on from the original campaign.
There’s security officials monitoring security feeds and spoofy undercover interviews to poke fun at the public furore around the first advert, ahead of the full 30 second commercial that will debut next week.
Of course there’s a sodding hashtag – #MarmiteNeglect – thank you marketeers for doing the admin for everyone who will no doubt be inundating social networks about it.
Joanne O’Riada, Marmite brand manager, said the campaign will be “digital-first” and deliver a light-hearted reminder of the ‘Love it. Hate it. Just don’t forget it’ strapline”.
Shall we have a look at it?
What days we live in, people.
Despite the thwarters, Aldi are still hoping to give you some cheer this January with the latest in its Swap & Save campaign.
They’ve even paid some marketeering knobhounds to come up with the term ‘swap your old January to an Aldi January’.
The campaign is hosted on a dedicated website where users can sign in with their email address to find out how much they save with each shop. Here they can track those savings and share them on online using the hashtag #aldichallenge.
Already since the site began on New Years Day, several hundred have compared and contrasted their grocery bills up against Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.
However they’re being a bit more cautious this time around after their previous ‘Swap & Save’ campaigns were narked at by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), when in May 2014, Asda complained that it was misleading, and the TV and print ad run out was banned after Tesco chipped in and had a moan.
Tesco said the weekly shops highlighted in the advert were not compared on a like-for-like basis, and added that the explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough. It was also claimed Aldi exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge.
This time around, the #AldiChallenge campaign, states that the savings are “based on a comparison of Aldi products against premium brands. Other supermarkets may sell ‘own brand’ products at different prices.”
Anyway, pop along here to see what savings you could make.
Following the recent surveys about customers willing to buy wonky fruit and vegetables, Asda have now stepped up with a trial of putting any old crap on its shelves. This is also quite helpful, seeing as Jamie Oliver has made it his new crusade, trying to get shoppers to go for the warped among the beautiful.
The misshapen treats will be trialled in five of Asda’s branches – really going for it there, eh? – and if it takes off, will be rolled out to more stores.
Naturally, they’ve branded it, and that name is Beautiful On The Inside, which sounds more like a mid Noughties power ballad than a range of fresh veg, but hey.
It will be sold cheaper than the prettier produce and plans to make ‘ugly food more accessible’, which, again, smells of marketing clipboard bingo, and in a bid to get families into it, will feature characters such as Paul Potato, Suzie Swede, Alfie Apple and Penny Pear.
Jamie Oliver and his hanger on pal Jimmy Doherty will be highlighting food waste in their new series of Friday Night Feast. Said Oliver: “If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load. There’s no difference in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans. When half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks this waste isn’t just bonkers, it’s bordering on criminal.”
The duo approached Asda and suggested running a trial in store to understand customer perceptions of wonky produce and whether they would be willing to buy it at a discount.
Asda’s produce technical director Ian Harrison backs it up with: “Even if fruit and veg have some knobbles and blemishes, this doesn’t affect the quality or taste – a carrot is still a carrot.”
“Customers are simply looking for great tasting, fresh produce at a value price. Our Beautiful On The Inside range, which would have either gone to waste or been used for further processing, will now be celebrated for its freshness, value and quality. The new specifications mean up to 20% more of a citrus crop, 15% more swede and 10% more potatoes could be sold fresh in-store”
So there you go. Wonky veg. You have no excuse to dismiss it now, you hounds.
McDonald’s McRib sandwich is back. Back. BACK.
Yes, after 12 years and 20,000 pleas across social media, the fast food gulag is reinstating the sarnie onto its menus as of RIGHT NOW. Naturally engagement demands that there’s a hashtag – #theMcRibisback – to drive one time devotees back into its arms.
They also send up obsessives with an advert, which according to McDonalds: “This teaser Mockumentary celebrates the UK’s love for the McRib. To its loyal fans, it’s quite simply iconic.”
However, it’s not forever. It will be on sale up until February 3rd.
So stuff your kale smoothies and your NEW YEAR NEW YOU routine up its arse, and blow your calorific intake on a McRib while you can. Good thing it is available for a limited as hardening your arteries never felt so good.
On the final day of what has been a pretty awful year for Tesco, perhaps a small victory over Aldi might go some way towards a better 2015. Tesco have successfully appealed to the ASA that Aldi’s “Swap and Save” adverts, showing how much consumers can save by switching to Aldi were actually misleading. However, the ASA still reckons that Aldi is cheaper overall…
This is actually the second time Aldi has run the campaign, and the second time they have got in trouble over it. Now, after an investigation, the ASA agreed Aldi offered savings, but it banned the adverts on the grounds that they exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge, and questions over the shopping basket data used.
Tesco complained that the comparison was misleading because it believed the eight-week comparison period was out of date and invalid for a price sensitive market. They also complained that weekly shops were not compared on a like-for-like basis- with some ‘high ticket’ or non-weekly items excluded on a sometimes arbitrary basis, and that explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough.
However, Tesco’s main gripe was that the adverts stated 84 out of 98 people saved, and that the challenge upon which the advert was based involved an eight week challenge-four weeks’ shopping at a competitor and then four weeks shopping at Aldi. However, when looking into the background data published by Aldi, Tesco discovered that only four of the 98 individuals had undertaken the eight-week challenge and the remaining 94 had undertaken the challenge over two weeks.
Aldi had tried to address some of the concerns raised by Tesco, and had tested to see whether prices had materially moved since the challenge was undertaken (December 2013) and the advert showing in April 2014. They hadn’t. The inconsistency with the number of people taking the trial had come about after Clearcast, the advertising clearance agency, had advised Aldi they needed more data to substantiate their claims. Consequently, Aldi had rerun the trial with more people over two weeks to add to the original eight-week trial data.
To resolve the issue, the ASA did its own calculations, taking into account items it believed should have been included and excluded, and allowing for inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Aldi’s interpretation of the data. The ASA figures still showed that savings in the original shops ranged from 22% to 33%. The savings for a shorter ‘revalidation’ trial were even better, ranging from 25% to 38%.
The ASA concluded that “we considered those amounts represented significant savings at the time of both the original shops and the revalidation shop, and therefore that the overall message of the Swap & Save campaign, that consumers could save money by shopping at Aldi, was not misleading to consumers.”
However, “ because we considered the way in which the comparison was presented in the ads implied more people had participated in the eight-week challenge than was the case, we concluded the ads were in breach of the Codes.”
So it’s a bit of a hollow victory for Tesco. Yes the ads were misleading, but not on the actual main thrust of the ad. That it is actually cheaper to shop at Aldi. Happy New Year Tesco.