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Kinky things, womanly things, death and Hell climb to the height of disdain

The results for the most complained about ads in 2009 have been released by the Advertising Standards Authority. And the lucky winners are…

Not surprisingly, and perhaps serving its own purpose to gain notoriety, Hell Pizza has topped the list. We all remember the hoopla surrounding the controversial billboard advertising Hell Pizza’s new gluten free brownies, which capitalised on the news story about a man who barbecued his pet dog. The controversy that ensued resulted in 62 complaints being upheld by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. The Complaints Board said the advertisement “did not meet a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society, was distasteful, offensive and reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards.” Phew.

It seems death also ranks highly as an advertising taboo, if a STIHL chainsaw television advertisement is anything to go by. Coming in at a not too shabby second, this ad features a dying man on his deathbed who says to his son, “look after your mother.” When asked by family what the dying man said, the son says that his father said he could have his chainsaw. No surprises here that the complaints centered around bad taste, a lack of sensitivity and a disrespect for death. The advertiser maintained the message of the ad was that STIHL chainsaws can last a lifetime and people will go to great lengths to obtain or inherit one. It also seems the public went to great lengths to complain about the ad, but to no avail – none of the 53 complaints were upheld, with the Complaints Board accepting there was no intent to offend viewers.

Next in line for complaints were the  folks promoting the Erotica Lifestyles Expo with a (surprise, surprise) naughty billboard. What would an erotica expo use to promote the sale of tickets? Religious figures, naturally. The billboard depicts a nun praying next to text that read, “GOOD BY DAY.” Beside her is another nun posing seductively with the text, “NAUGHTY BY NIGHT.” Naughty as people thought this billboard was, none of the 45 complaints made against it were upheld.

The cute beaver in a U Tampon television advertisement was the culprit behind the fourth most complained about ad. The ad (still airing) depicts a woman going about her daily routine, with a friendly beaver companion. She hands the beaver a parcel containing a packet of U tampons and a voiceover says, “You’ve only got one, so for the ultimate care, make it U Tampons.”

The complaints centered around the ads obvious female euphemism and was also accused of objectifying women in a disregarding manner, stereotyping men, and was accused of being aired at an inappropriate time (between 6pm and 7pm), when children and teenagers are watching. Lucky some people found the ad funny though, because its humorous aspect is what saved it and resulted in the 44 complaints laid against it not being upheld.

And the rest? ASB Bank, ACC, Widex Hearing Aids, Sky Network television, Cadbury, and Coca-Cola can stand up and take a bow, completing the list of top 10.

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