TV advert complaints rise and influencers also put 'on notice' by watchdog

TV advertising complaints rose 43 percent over the past year, while social media influencer posts accounted for nearly a quarter of all online cases, figures show.

The increased television viewing during the lockdown could be responsible for the sharp rise in complaints to 14,211 or 5,070 ads, but they still account for only a fifth of all cases, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In contrast, complaints about influencer posts still accounted for a quarter of online cases, despite an eight percent decrease from the previous year.

Influencers were “notified” after more than 24,000 posts found that the percentage of influencers who obeyed the rules – especially if they didn’t make it clear that they were ads – “was well below what we would expect “.

The ASA and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) annual report shows that in 2020 the regulator resolved 36,342 complaints across 22,823 advertisements and withdrew or modified a record 36,491 advertisements – an increase of 346 percent from 2019 after launching a technology-enabled online Display monitoring.

Online cases made up 61 percent of all cases and nearly half of all complaints in the media, or 17,379 complaints across 14,512 cases.

In the health and beauty sector, most of the ads have been changed and withdrawn, in large part due to compliance projects examining campaigns for botox and IV drops.

With the pandemic seemingly on the run, things are returning – albeit slowly – to something resembling normal.

Coronavirus restrictions have eased in communities across the UK, and some shops, bars, restaurants, hair and beauty salons and more are now open to most.

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The airline Ryanair’s “Jab and Go” ad was the most objected to last year and became the third most frequent complaint of all time, following 2,371 complaints. It encouraged consumers to book Easter and summer holidays with the airline after vaccinations, suggesting that people might “bump and walk”.

Guy Parker, CEO of ASA, said, “Despite the challenges of the past 12 months, we have doubled the protection of children and people in vulnerable circumstances.

“We broke our previous record of amended or withdrawn advertisements. We are researching the holdings of online platforms to better reflect their role in maintaining responsible online ads, and we are conducting major projects related to the environment, racial and ethnic stereotypes, and body image.

“With all of this, our increased use of technology is changing the way we fight harmful and misleading ads and helping us better protect people.”

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