The travel industry provided three of 2014’s ten most complained about adverts, according to the Advertising Standards Authority.
The recent “Booking dot Yeah” campaign from Booking.com was the second most complained about ad in 2014, with 1,768 complaints.
The campaign was recently cleared by the ASA, following complaints that the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children by using the word “booking” in place of a swear word.
A big theme of 2014 was the rise of so-called ‘copycat websites,’ which mislead people by appearing to be official government websites.
Two such cases appear in the list. In 8th place is TADServices Ltd., trading as uk-passport.net, and in 10th is IQ Channels Ltd., trading as passport-uk.co.uk. Together they generated 365 complaints.
The issues raised by these companies were used to inform a sector-wide investigation into copycat websites. This included consumer research and action across the sector to remove misleading claims, imagery and emblems.
It also involved the Government awareness campaign ‘#StartAtGOVUK,’ warning those looking for official services to start at GOV.UK to avoid misleading websites.
Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: “2014 was the year social media came into its own in making it easier than ever to lodge complaints en masse.
“While some ads will inevitably split opinion, as the diverse nature of complaints we received shows, last year underlined the importance of our work in cracking down on misleading ads, including copycat websites, that are simply unfair to consumers.”