Thursday 19 January 2017 9:29 am

These were the 10 most complained about advertisements of 2016

I am a journalist for City A.M. reporting on the energy and mining sectors. I also keep an eye on the pharmaceuticals sector and cryptocurrencies. Email:

I am a journalist for City A.M. reporting on the energy and mining sectors. I also keep an eye on the pharmaceuticals sector and cryptocurrencies. Email:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will today reveal Britain's most complained about advertisements of 2016.

The contenders brought in thousands of angry accusations by displaying twerking businessmen and cat kicking as well as, of course, offending vegans. 

Although more than 70 per cent of complaints received by the ASA are about misleading adverts, all of the top spots were nabbed by viewers crying offence. However, despite the over-the-top humour or risque content, none of these ads were banned in the end.

Without further ado, here is the full list.

10. An awkward Maltesers romance – 151 complaints

This ad by Mars Chocolate UK shows a woman in a wheelchair chatting with friends about how a spasm during a romantic encounter with a new boyfriend was "misinterpreted". Viewers thought the ad was overly sexual and offensive to people with a disability.

9. Crimes against vegetarians – 195 complaints

Gourmet Burger Kitchen's poster ads caused non-meat eaters to come out with pitchforks. The campaign featured slogans like, "You'll always remember when you gave up being a vegetarian", "Burger is the new quinoa" and "They eat grass so you don't have to". After hearing of the complaints, the restaurant took independent action to remove three of the ads.

8. Stereotyped abuse – 216 complaints

This well-intended campaign from the Home Office was meant to inform young people about domestic abuse, but some viewers said the advert implied only men were abusers. Angry complaints said it could prevent male domestic abuse survivors from seeking help.

7. England vs. Scotland – 220 complaints

You might not think an advert showing a group of Scottish people singing about how England will lose the UEFA Euro tournament would be offensive, but more than 200 people either said Paddy Power's advert was anti-English or stereotyped Scottish people.

6. Gaz and Leccy go too far – 253 complaints

You might remember hearing about Gaz and Leccy, the cartoon stars behind Smart Energy's ads. Well, some viewers thought the series was excessively violent and failed to make clear the real dangers of gas and electrical devices.

5. Look away cat lovers – 450 complaints

A second Paddy Power advert made the top 10 list. This one was first shown in 2010, when it generated more than 1,000 complaints. Viewers then and now agree: kicking cats isn't cool. Complaints said it endorsed animal abuse and was offensive to blind people.

4. Dance off – 530 complaints

Another repeat offender is A series of videos showed men called Dave and Colin holding a dance off in the middle of the street. All of the complaints received about this ad said it was overtly sexual or was too suggestive of homosexuality. Sigh.

3. A match too far? – 896 complaints

A advert was criticised for showing two women share a passionate kiss, which caused some angry viewers to say it was sexually explicit or inappropriately scheduled.

2. Dance off part two – 898 complaints

Dave and Colin are back for, but this time they have the support of a dance squad. Viewers said it was overtly sexual or homophobic and could encourage hate crimes.

1. Gary the bodyguard gets too frisky – 1,063 complaints

The most complained about advert of the year? It's again. The price comparison website dominated the complains for the second year running, racking in just under 2,500 complaints. This ad featured Gary the bodyguard dancing at a rally and, as before, viewers said Gary's moves were too sexual.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said the ads that attract the highest number of complaints typically aren't the ones that need banning. Most of the above were passed over for being broadly offensive to small groups of people.

“There wasn’t one misleading ad in the top 10," Parker said.

"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," he added.

Basically, you can toe the line all you want, just don't mislead your consumers.