complaints hardly anybody complains about

When you see a story on the TV news or in your newspaper telling you that a controversial advert has been banned or withdrawn after protests, don’t you ever wonder how many people complained?

There are over 66 million people in the UK living in approximately 27.3 million households, with around 26.7 million of those households having a TV. My maths skills tell me that means 97.8% of the UK population can watch TV. If we say that the TV is only ever turned on in 90%, it means that roughly 59.4 million of us have access to a TV and occasionally watch it. Over 59 million of us.

According to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), a KFC advert which featured a chicken dancing as it heads to slaughter was the UK’s most complained-about advert in 2017. The complaints that flooded in claimed that it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians, vegans and children to watch. Despite the complaints, the ASA decided not to ban it because it didn’t include explicit references to animal slaughter and was therefore (in their opinion) unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. A vote for sanity, we’d say.

How many complaints?

The KFC advert was the most complained about advert in the UK. Take a guess at how many UK viewers called in to complain about it. Did you say 10 million people? Too high. 1 million? Still too high. Nope, not a couple of hundred thousand, nor even a thousand. The most complained about advert of 2017 attracted a grand total of 755 complaints from a potential 59 million audience. 755 people from a population of 66,000,000. Basically, hardly anybody. And yet they get taken seriously.

So if you’re a militant vegan who believes that people should be imprisoned for eating murdered and formerly living creatures, you can phone in and complain about the new car advert which includes a 2-second clip featuring a man walking with a dog on a lead in the background, on the grounds that it promotes animal slavery, false imprisonment of sentient beings, bondage and, potentially, bestiality. AND THEY MIGHT EVEN TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY!!!

Ridiculous complaints

Apparently, the ASA received almost 30,000 complaints last year, about all manner of adverts and for things you’ve got to be trying seriously hard to be offended by. We’ve decided that discussing these silly complaints any further would simply give them wings, so we decided to include some of the adverts we like the most. We hope you enjoy them and make no apologies to those bereft of a sense of humour.


After graduating from university, I joined the British Army, where I served as an engineer for 15 years. After deciding to rejoin the normal world, I was offered a training role with one of the UK's largest engineering firms. Thanks to my work, I have worked in over a dozen different countries to date.

For the past 5 years I have been an occasional writer for a number of technical and also travel publications, but jumped at the chance to offer observations on normal life when my friends launched Goodish Times.


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