Seven ads that escaped a ban

KFC has avoided investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority, despite more than 500 complaints for the brand's first campaign by Mother, "The whole chicken". Which other ads provoked the fury of the public but got off scot-free?


"Epic strut"
Agency: Mother

Four ads across 2015 and 2016 attracted more than 4,000 complaints between them for the salacious booty-wiggling of the hot pant-wearing Dave and his various friends and rivals in the construction and security industries. The ASA admitted some people would find them distasteful, but said they did not break the rules.

Paddy Power

"Blind football"
Agency: Big Al’s Creative Emporium

More than 1,000 people were upset by Paddy Power’s 2010 ad featuring a football match between blindfolded players in which a cat was booted through the air into a tree. But the watchdog decided it was sufficiently "surreal and improbable" to not count as genuinely condoning cruelty to animals.


Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

KFC’s strutting chicken might have ruffled a few feathers but it has a long way to go to top the brand’s 2005 masterpiece, which, with 1,671 complaints, was at the time the most complained about ad to date. What could have aggravated the Great British Public to such an extent? The ultimate social transgression: talking with your mouth full.

Oven Pride

"So easy, even a man can do it"

This 2009 ad got 670 people into a huff based on the premise that men are inferior at house chores. The watchdog gave it the green light, determining that it was unlikely to cause widespread offence. Given the body’s recent announcement, we’re not sure it would make the same decision again today.

Protein World (almost)

"Beach body ready"

This poster ad, which ran on London Underground sites, was banned by the ASA for its health claims. But despite 378 complaints and a media storm around the depiction of women’s bodies in advertising, the watchdog rejected suggestions that it was offensive.


"Singing dog"
Agency: DDB London

Another major instalment in the "dubious treatment of animals" genre, this 2009 spot drew 743 complaints on a range of issues around the treatment of the dog. But the ASA was satisfied the animal had been looked after properly and that the tone of the ad did not really condone cruelty.

Beats Pill

"Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines"
Agency: Hogarth Worldwide

This ad, which featured Robin Thicke and his gaggle of scantily-clad female friends in a parody of Thicko’s 2013 hit Blurred Lines, drew the same accusations as the song itself, which was regarded by some as promoting unhealthy messages about consent. But the ASA decided the sexual suggestiveness was OK, after the watershed. The controversy will have been painful to Beats founder Dr Dre, who is noted for his reverence for women.

... and one that didn't

Paddy Power

"It's Oscar time"

Released during Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in 2014, Paddy Power's ad committed the double whammy of triviliasing a violent death and making fun of the Paralympic athlete's disability. It became the most complained about ad of all time with 5,525 complaints. This time, the watchdog agreed with them, deciding it was not only offensive, but also likely to bring advertising into disrepute.

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