The most complained about advertisements of 2015 have been released, with the biggest gripes surrounding allegations of sexism, exploitation, violence and animal cruelty.

An online advertising campaign by Kiwi clothing brand I Love Ugly promoting its range of men's jewellery drew the most public ire, with 26 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) leading to its provocative ads being pulled.

The adverts featured a man's hands covering various parts of a naked woman's body including her breasts and crotch.

Within days of its December launch, the adverts were blasted on social media for being "sexist" and "revolting".

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Investigative journalist Paula Penfold said her family had previously liked the brand, but wouldn't be shopping with them until they pulled the campaign.

The ASA, in its just-released 2015 annual report, found the campaign to be "exploitative of, and degrading to, women".

I Love Ugly removed the campaign's images and apologised.

The ASA received a total of 1,260 enquiries last year, including 707 formal complaints about 514 advertisements across TV (200), digital marketing (162), print (56), out of home (56) and radio (32).

The key issues complained about were misleading advertisements, issues of social responsibility and standards of taste and decency.

For nearly half (47 per cent) of the complaints, there were no grounds to proceed. A third (34 per cent) were upheld or settled, 12 per cent not upheld, five p[er cent there was no jurisdiction, and two per cent with withdrawn or resolved.

The second most complained about ad of 2015 was Access Solutions scaffolding hire firm's billboards that showed a man on a scissor lift pasting up an image of a topless woman. Accompanying text stated: 'Access problems?'

The ASA upheld the 22 complaints, deeming it exploitative, objectifying, and "likely to cause serious or widespread offence in an outdoor environment".

A Toyota Hilux campaign featuring talking animals drew 13 complaints offended at the placement of the advertisement immediately after a current affairs show on the horrors of animal cruelty.

The advertiser withdrew the ads and apologised to consumers, the ASA said.

An inventive advert by Schick Hydro Silk Trim Style razor for women which featured small bushes placed in front of women who tried topiary drew eight complaints who believed it was sexist and degrading to women.

But the ASA's complaints board said bikini trimming was a personal choice and there was nothing in the advertisement that objectified the women.

"The simulation of personal grooming was saved by the provision for humour," the ASA said in not upholding the complaints.

Two separate adverts by Hell Pizza each drew a handful of complaints.

One showing a man's exploding head was upheld as being "grotesque, violent and likely to cause serious offence to most people".

Another Hell Pizza's ad showing the removal of a lamb's leg to eat while it was still alive was found not to breach advertising standards after being saved by its hyperbole and dark humour.

The top five

1.

2.

Access Solutions scaffolding

An online advertising campaign by Kiwi clothing brand I Love Ugly promoting its range of men's jewellery drew the most public ire. Photo / Facebook
An online advertising campaign by Kiwi clothing brand I Love Ugly promoting its range of men's jewellery drew the most public ire. Photo / Facebook

3.

Toyota Hilux's talking animals

4.

Schick Hydro Silk Trim Style razor's Trim the Bushes

5.

New Zealand Pork's 'Mum's Night Off' campaign

THE NUMBERS

• 1260 enquiries to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
• 707 formal complaints about 514 advertisements.
• 299 complaints over misleading claims
• 200 complaints related to TV adverts
- Source: ASA