Hate That Ad

What ads do you hate most? 

Elsewhere on this website I’ve written about great advertising such as the annual Sam Kekovich lamb ads and the Yellow Pages ads with their loveable characters and relatable storylines.  Ads that make us laugh. 

The most hated ad of 2022 was the Pointsbet ad featuring Shaquille O’Neal and three Aussies – played by Youtube jokers The Inspired Unemployed – talking in such exaggerated ockerish accents that the yankee basketballer can’t understand them. ‘You Aussies sure are crazy’. It plays on that old trope of putting one over the yanks, but it misfires, because the slang is so phony we Aussies can’t understand it either and it just became annoying with constant repetition.

And it didn’t make us laugh!

The most complained about ad of 2023 was a huge billboard at a busy Perth intersection featuring a scantily clad young woman posing and pouting provocatively over links to her adult content Youtube channel OnlyFans.

Interesting that an ad only seen by Perth motorists attracted the most complaints – over 300.  People didn’t like its exploitation of female sexuality.  Ironically, the entrepreneurial young woman exploiting her own sexuality made a fortune out of it.  ‘Savannah’ said she paid $7700 for the billboard but made $100,000 in the first week alone through referrals and subsequent global media coverage.  Overall she made a 1198 per cent return on her investment!

Savannah, aka WC Savage, paid for a giant billboard in Osborne Park that shows off her vital stats: Her breasts, Instagram handle, and a QR code that links to her OnlyFans page.

It’s the industry body Adstandards that tabulates complaints and adjudicates on them. 

They say most complaints these days are about sexual content or perceived sexism, so the Pointsbet ad was a bit of an anomaly. 

So was the second most complained about – a TV ad for Red Rooster, showing a skateboarder stealing chicken from other skateboarders at a skate park. 

I’ve never seen it, but it reminds me of an ad for Le Specs going back decades in which a girl accidentally sits on her own sunglasses, then slyly picks up an identical pair belonging to the woman seated next to her and puts her damaged ones in their place.  I was outraged that an act of sneaky dishonesty was being celebrated. 

The third most complained about was a TV ad for Mars Wrigley chewing gum.  Two women in a car are listening to music. One leans over to kiss the other.

The fourth most complained about was another billboard ad for a product called Lovehoney, featuring the slogan ‘Winter chills have never felt so good’ and an image of a hand holding a sex toy. 

Then came yet another billboard ad for the video game Diablo IV, showing a picture of a demon and the phrase ‘Welcome to hell’.

Adstandards dismissed all five complaints, but it seems if you want to avoid them, it’s best to stay way from sex and religion.  And don’t think being woke and inclusive will fix it.  Remember how Bud Light beer lost the top market spot after they used a transgender influencer as the face of the campaign. 

But does the number of complaints reflect what offends sensitive minorities rather than what most people actually hate?  I think people mainly hate endless repetition. 

The Pointsbet ad infested SBS On Demand for months on end.  It was kind of interesting the first few times, but after the umpteenth viewing you wanted to throw something at the TV screen. 

Likewise with the National Bank ad where the house gets up and runs away down the street.  I was already well and truly sick of it by the time I worked out what it was plugging.  Industry wisdom would say see, at least you remembered it. But what’s the point of remembering an ad if it takes an effort to work out what it’s actually for?!

I hate the ad for Stayz, the one that claims their special thing is that you can have the property all to yourself – ‘just you and your people’.  Every time it comes on I rant at the telly: all the accommodation platforms offer that choice – don’t insult our intelligence!

When I asked about for ads people hated, someone mentioned that old ad for Tasmanian Carpet Cleaning, an annoying jingle repeating the firm’s phone number.  Not only did everyone remember the ad, but the numbers as well, as was demonstrated when we couldn’t help ourselves and sang it.  I suppose this bears out industry wisdom about relentless repetition.  But we still hated it.

What ads do you hate and why? 

Incidentally, Savannah put on some clothes and gave over the last month of her billboard lease to promote a local clothing charity, saying that’s what she’d been on about the whole time.

“This billboard is not about me or getting publicity for myself, this billboard is really about using the platform that I have, that all this controversy has created to help a company that does really good things within the Perth community.

Sure, Savannah. We believe you.