Price comparison websites are known for their creative TV commercials but the one of ‘Dave’ performing his Epic Strut in high heels and hot pants was the most complained about ad in 2015, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has revealed.
Moneysupermarket.com, founded by Chester businessman Simon Nixon, attracted 1,513 complaints from viewers who felt the ad was offensive, with many citing the man’s clothing and dance moves and its ‘overtly sexual’ content.
However, no complaints were upheld against the company which began on Chester Business Park but is now based over the border in North Wales at Ewloe, near Chester.
The ‘Dave’ ad was part of the ‘You’re so Moneysupermarket’ campaign, which explains the feeling someone has after they have saved money on insurance.
Featuring celebrity Sharon Osbourne, it became a viral sensation and attracted huge media attention.
The Sun newspaper even borrowed the image when it mocked up a picture of Chancellor George Osborne wearing cut-off jeans and flaunting his ‘booty’ following the 2015 budget, with the headline ‘George’s epic strut’.
The competitive world of price comparison sites sees the fierce rivalry expressed in no expenses spared ads whether it’s the meerkats of CompareTheMarket.com fame or the opera singer in the Gocompare.com commercials.
Market leader moneysupermarket.com followed-up the ‘Dave’ commercial with Colin, the pole-dancing builder, who rode astride a wrecking ball in a routine reminiscent of the explicit Miley Cyrus video accompanying the song entitled Wrecking Ball. The latest offering is ‘Gary’, a body-popping bodyguard, who busts out some moves at a political rally much to the bemusement of onlookers.
Also included in the ASA’s top 10 most complained about adverts were:
■ PayPal (UK) - 464 complaints, not upheld. Viewers were concerned the TV advert, which shows two children worried that their parents have not bought them Christmas presents, would cast doubt over Santa’s existence.
■ Booking.com - 407 complaints, not upheld. Complainants found this TV ad featuring a man sitting on a boat before jumping off and swimming ashore offensive due to its use of the word ‘booking’. The ASA judged it was a light hearted play on words that couldn’t be mistaken for an actual swear word.
■ Department of Health - 181 complaints, not upheld. Part of a Public Health England anti-smoking campaign, the ‘graphic’ and ‘gruesome’ ads showed a cigarette which contained flesh, but the ASA found they contained an “important health message”.
■ Nicocigs - 145 complaints, not upheld. A TV ad for an electronic cigarette was criticised for potentially appealing to children, however the ASA noted the ad was not scheduled around programmes that would appeal to children and was not in a style that would appeal to them.
■ Omega Pharma - 136 complaints, upheld. Two women were seen exchanging texts comparing their bodies before heading on holiday in this TV and YouTube ad. The ASA banned it for presenting ‘an irresponsible approach to body image and confidence’.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “While matters of offence can grab the headlines, the bulk of our work is the less glamorous task of tackling misleading advertising. That’s why we’re taking a more proactive approach to address the issues which affect consumers the most before complaints need to be made.”