CAR servicing franchise Ultra Tune has attracted 739 complaints in 2016 over their television advertising campaign.
The Advertising Standards Bureau today released its top 10 list of ads that collected the most complaints in 2016, with Ultra Tune taking up three places – including the top slot.
The most complained about ad of 2016 was the company’s 16-second free-to-air TV spot that features two dancing women in rubber suits, with the tagline: “We’re into rubber.” The ad attracted 418 separate letters of complaints, suggesting it was in breach of sections 2.1, 2.2 and 2.4 of the advertising standards code that relate to discrimination, exploitation and degradation, and sex, sexuality or nudity respectively.
While those complaints relating to that ad were dismissed, another Ultra Tune ad – the fifth most complained about on the top 10 list – was banned after it was found to discriminate against females. It attracted 208 complaints, and showed the same two women being hit by a train after their car broke down on train tracks.
The third Ultra Tune ad to make the list finished seventh, attracting 113 separate complaints. This ad showed the same pair driving off a cliff after selecting the wrong gear before driving off.
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The banned ad campaign is one of the most complained about in Australian television history, attracting 739 letters of complaint across the three Ultra Tune pitches.
The “We’re into rubber” spot has drawn the second highest number of complaints of any ad reviewed by the Advertising Standards Bureau, finishing runner-up to a TV spot for adulterous dating site Ashley Madison that attracted 643 complaints through 2014 and 2015.
This isn’t Ultra Tune’s first brush with advertising controversy. The ASB investigated a 2014 ad with similar themes that received 181 complaints, ranking it sixth on the most complained-about ad list of that year.
Ultra Tune executive chairman Sean Buckley defended his ads to the ABC earlier this year.
"They're joking, fun, humorous, have some Hollywood theatrics," he said.
Mr Buckley said the banned ad that showed the women being hit by a train at a level crossing was trying to highlight the dangers of poor car maintenance.
"I agree we've copped some flak, but the idea we would want to alienate part of our customer base, that's just ridiculous," he said. "People should lighten up."