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Britain's Ad Authority Releases Its List Of The Most Complained-About Ads

On Weekend Edition Saturday, Vicki Barker had the story of a list released by the UK Advertising Standards Authority to mark the agency's 50th anniversary. Specifically, it released the list of the 50 most complained-about ads the UK has ever seen.

One features a group of blind soccer players — or, you know, football players — playing with a ball with a bell on it. Unfortunately, well, the ball isn't the only thing with a bell on it, and the ad made a lot of people angry. How many? 1,113 people complained.

(It appears that Tiddles the cat, by the way, winds up just fine! ...Admittedly, in a tree.)

Believe it or not, that only earns Paddy Power third place. First place went to something much more mundane: talking with your mouth full. Or, more specifically, singing with your mouth full to support KFC.

Not all of the most controversial advertisements are for television. A leaflet made the list, too: it showed the Pope and the words, "Thou Shalt Always Wear A Condom" and promoted the British Safety Council's National Condom Week.

The Advertising Standards Authority did have the Pope leaflet pulled, although it wasn't receptive to the complaints about the soccer players and the kitty or the ladies with their mouths full.

The BBC ran down more of the list, including an ad for Yves St. Laurent perfume that was eventually banned, and a TV campaign about climate change.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
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