Controversial Advertising - Top 10 of 2008 in Australia

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau released its ‘Top 10 Controversial Ads in Australia’ report for 2008. The agency received more than 2,350 complaints for 540 ads released on television, outdoor and print mediums.

So, how offensive really were these ads that made some Aussies mad enough to pick up the phone and call the bureau? After searching around a bit, I was able to find most of the commercials and advertisements online.

Without further ado, here are Australia’s top 10 controversial commercials of 2008:

(10) Motorola – Razr Mobile Phone

This harmless commercial for Motorola’s Razr mobile phone received more than 40 calls from viewers, ostensibly horrified by the use of the Razr as a melee weapon. The bureau dismissed the complaints and did not ban the commercial.

(9) Advanced Medical Institute billboard – "Bonk Longer"

Bonk Longer

The billboards put up by the Advanced Medical Institute, promoting a nasal spray to treat premature ejaculation, prompted 45+ calls from outraged viewers. Believe it or not, but this was the toned down version of their previous campaign.

Sensing the mood of the public, the institute voluntarily withdrew the campaign.

(8) Virgin Mobile – ‘Go Topless’ Campaign

Virgin Mobile’s ads are usually quite risqué, but fun to watch. The ‘Go Topless’ commercial featured a topless young woman covering her ‘assets’ while talking on the phone. The ad received over 45 complaints, but was not banned.

Sadly, I was unable to find the said commercial on the net. To make up for it, here are two typically raunchy Virgin Mobile commercials.

Note: The ads are slightly NSFW.

(7) Tell The Truth Coalition – Pictures of Aborted Fetuses

The anti-abortion group, Tell the Truth Coalition, mailed thousands of pamphlets with pictures of dead fetuses to unsuspecting residents of Melbourne, Australia.  The bureau received only 45 complaints, but promptly banned the ads. As this is beyond appalling and in extremely poor taste, I’m not going to post the pictures or the link.

(6) Coca-Cola – Mother

This one is a genuine head-scratcher. Coco Cola released this commercial to promote their re-launch of Mother energy drink.

The ad showed a SWAT team raiding a lab, and then violently taking down the scientists who were responsible for making the original version of the energy drink. The bureau received over 50 complaints about the commercial, and decide to ban it.

(5) Quit Victoria – Anti-smoking Campaign

This one proved to be traumatizing for parents of young children. A young child, separated from its parent at a train station, starts to panic and then cry. The ad asks you to imagine how he’ll feel if you die from smoking.

The bureau received 65+ complaints, but thankfully, the ad was not banned.

(4) Inghams Chicken – Water Cooler Ad

This commercial for Inghams implied that there was something wrong with people if they didn’t like to eat chicken.

The ad received more than 100 complaints, but wasn’t banned by the bureau.

(3) Advanced Medical Institute – “Want Longer Lasting Sèx” billboard

This was the original phrase used in the billboards for the Advanced Medical Institute. Reportedly, the ad made one child ask his mother, "How long is it supposed to last?"

How long is it supposed to last ? Billboard- Controversial Australian Ads

The ad received more than 110 complaints from Australian residents, and the bureau promptly banned it.

(2) Domino’s – Many Toppins

This terribly planned and executed commercial for Domino’s had a fat man named ‘Mary Toppins’, and a groan inducing catchphrase “SuperCalaFreakinAwesome.” Viewers made over 145+ calls complaining that ‘freakin’ sounded more like ‘friggin’.


The commercial wasn’t banned, but it certainly should have been. They should have also put the copywriter and the entire ad department into prison (with no chance of parole), and then thrown away the keys.

(1) Kotex U – Beaver Commercial

Kotex’s U Tampon commercial had an attractive woman going on about her daily activities, but with a beaver in tow. Viewers are told, "You only have one of them, so look after it."

The ad received over 185+ complaints, but the bureau decided not to ban it.

So there you have it. The top 10 ads which invited the most number of complaints in Australia. People are not really that different, down under.

[Hat tip to The Daily Telegraph]

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    Published since 2006, JazJaz is a blog about pop culture, art, and technology. You can learn more about me here.

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