Who complains about ads? ASA regional breakdown

Sep 29th '16

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) complaint figures published last week reveal that, across the UK, men complain more about ads than women – 56% compared to 41%.


The figures also show a big difference between what appears to concern men and women, with men complaining more about misleading ads while women complain more about ads that they consider harmful or offensive.


ASA complaint statistics reveal that last year:


  • 56% (approx. 14,500) of complaints were from men and 41% (approx.10,500) were from women
  • 64% of men who contacted us complained about ads being misleading compared with 41% of women
  • 59% of women who contacted us complained about ads being harmful or offensive compared with 35% of men
  • Despite over 4,000 more men lodging complaints than women overall, the majority of complaints about potentially harmful or offensive ads came from women


The ASA also found that complaints about ads vary by region and country. Their figures show that people in England complained twice as much about ads than those in Northern Ireland. Consumers from Greater London and the South East of England were found to be the most likely to contact them with their concerns.


Across most regions, consumers complained more about advertising they considered misleading. However, Northern Ireland and the North East of England both bucked the trend, with consumers in both regions complaining more about advertising they felt was harmful or offensive.


While complaints are a helpful guide to consumers’ concerns, the ASA gather information and evidence on advertising issues from a variety of sources – including consumer research and intelligence-sharing with other regulators.


As well as handling over 29,500 complaints from consumers across the UK, they are also on the front-foot in taking action to make sure ads are sticking to the rules. During 2015 the ASA proactively resolved a record 5,425 cases, treble the total for the year before. The result of all of this work was a record 4,584 ads changed or withdrawn (up 32% on 2014).


Commenting on the findings ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker said: “The breakdown of ad complaints provides a fascinating snapshot of the issues that concern people across the nations and regions. It can only take a single complaint to stop an irresponsible ad. And it doesn’t matter who or where it comes from.


Complaints are just one way of helping us gauge public feeling. We also conduct extensive research, speaking direct to people across the UK about their experience of advertising.


That’s led us to spend more time on the issues that make the biggest difference to people, such as tackling misleading broadband pricing and exploring gender stereotyping in ads. Most ads play by the rules, but wherever there are problems we won’t hesitate to act.”



Source: ASA


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