'Inappropriate' Ads - Is This Advert Worse Than Barnados?

KIA Sportage Ad by Moma

The advert above just won a Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival. And I have to say, it’s memorable.

But it’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. For once, I’m completely in agreement with Copyranter who labels it as ‘one of the sleaziest car ads ever‘. There’s something about this advert that just makes my skin crawl.

But this (unofficial) advert is far from the first to go down the ‘inappropriate’ route. For the last few years, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have released a list of the most complained about adverts.

How do they match up against the sleaziest ever car advert?

The ASA’s Most Complained About Adverts: 2006 -2010

Beware! The following adverts are not for the easily offended. If you’re upset by violence, religion, animal cruelty or people talking with their mouths full, why not read about a funny mouse instead?

2006 – KFC Zinger Crunch Salad (1,671 Complaints)

Never mind inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Nothing gets the British complainer’s hackles to rise like poor table manners. Is there any reason for people in an advert to talk with their mouths full?

2007 – Department of Health “Don’t Get Hooked” (774 Complaints)

Alright, he’s not the best Doctor Who, but is a Paul McGann voiceover really offensive to over 700 people? Maybe not, but the unpleasant image of a smoker being dragged about on a hook upset parents, smokers and fishermen alike.

2008 – Barnados “Repeating” (840 Complaints)

Violence, crime, bullying and drug abuse are all offensive. But perhaps an exception should’ve been made for Barnados’ attempt to show just what life is like for thousands of young people.

2009 – The Christian Party (1,204 Complaints)

Sensible people don't look to buses for theological debate


Good dinner party guests don’t talk about politics or religion. And neither do good advertisers. So a party political advert for a religious organisation was always going to do a roaring trade in complaints – this time from ‘offended’ atheists.

2011 – Paddy Power – Blind Footballers (1,313 Complaints)

Poking fun at the disabled and laughing at animal cruelty is never going to be a popular advertising technique, which is why this Paddy Power advert prompted more complaints than adverts for an extra-marital affair website.


So, do you think any of the most complained about adverts can rival the KIA ad for sheer skin-crawling inappropriateness? Or is a bit of offensive content sometimes justified? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Edit: KIA’s official Twitter account sent me this link to their view of the above advert. They find the advert just as sleazy as the rest of you, and they’re not happy that it features their name.

1 Comment comments for "‘Inappropriate’ Ads – Is This Advert Worse Than Barnados?"

  1. Nick Cobb at 2:26 pm

    Good that Kia have distanced themselves from that ad, but how could ANY advertiser think that’s appropriate?!! It’s incredible that it ever got that far.

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