Phones4U tops the UK’s ad complaints hit parade

Phones4U’s Omen-style ad from Adam & Eve was the most complained about of 2011 in the UK, according to the latest report from ad regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). So that’s another box ticked.

Phones4U says it was “an absolute triumph of creative and impactful advertising” and the ASA refused to ban it despite over 1,000 complaints that it was too scary, inappropriate etc., so good for the ASA, 50 years old this year apparently. Actually, it is quite scary.

Here’s a full list from Campaign of other offenders (in the eyes of the public) most of which weren’t banned either.

Exacerbating the public in the cause of getting noticed is an old advertising trick, of course. The worst the ASA can do is tell you to pull it but, by that time, its evil work (or otherwise) has been done.

This used to be more of a sanction than it is now as most ads (certainly most that are avowedly controversial) are supposed to spend their middle years on YouTube. Phones4U’s horror story has had over 1.4m hits.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.