The Advertising Standards Authority's annual report reveals the top five most complained about adverts in 2016.

Top of the list was an advert for 2 Cheap Cars which featured a Japanese salesman repeatedly saying "ah-so" before switching to "ah-sold" when a customer decides to buy on of the cars.

There were 27 official complaints laid with viewers saying the ad perpetuated racist stereotypes.

The complaints were settled when the advertiser agreed to remove the clip, although they noted that it had been viewed by 10 Japanese people who had not found it racist.

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Being Japanese themselves, the directors of the company felt they should have been allowed to express their own culture, the annual report says.

The second most complained about ad was from NZTA's If Stoned: Don't Drive campaign.

There were 15 complaints and people objected to the showing of drug use during prime time. The complaints were not upheld as the ASA felt it contained an important public health message.

Third most complained about, with 14, was Greenpeace's: What's Polluting our Rivers?
Complainants felt the ad unfairly put too much blame on dairy farmers for the pollution of New Zealand's rivers. The complaints were not upheld as the ASA said the advocacy nature of the advertisement was clear.

Next, with 10 complaints was an ad for Parallel Imports which suggested people should buy a new Samsung phone and a drone to spy on their neighbours. The complaints - around encouraging breach of privacy - were settled when the advertiser apologised and withdrew the advert.

Finally, also with 10 complaints, was a DB Breweries advert for Old Mout Cider. Complainants felt it was transphobic and implied transgender people were deceptive if they didn't stick to their birth name. The complaints were settled when the advertiser withdrew the ad and apologised.

The ASA Annual Report for 2016 also showed a marked decrease in complaints from 2015 - down 17 per cent to 586.

Television still attracted the most complaints (48 per cent) but Digital is catching up (31 per cent).