Type to search

What ads were banned in 2021?


What ads were banned in 2021?


To end the year, we are looking at five ads that were banned throughout the year. And also those that have had several complaints against them.



In September, Grill’d launched a cartoon advertising portraying one of their burgers beating up a Ronald McDonald look-alike to save two kids in an alleyway. On the surface that sounds unproblematic, however the issue is that the ad appears to suggest the look-alike is exposing himself sexually to the two children behind a trenchcoat, before the trenchcoat is revealed to contains plastic toys.

The ad was meant to symbolise how fast-food chains hook children with the promise of toys, but Ad Standards deemed the ad “extremely inappropriate” and in violation of the industry’s code of conduct.

It said the ad was “menacing and suggestive of sexualised violence”.

Grill’d said they would modify the content to ensure it met industry standards.



In early 2021, Toyota had a new advertisement promoting their new GR Yaris hatchback range pulled off the air in Australia, with Australian officials deeming the ad dangerous because it is promoting reckless driving.

The commercial shows a brother and two sisters leaving for a family event in their own separate Toyota Yaris models, with the sisters complaining the brother is always late. He hops in his new GR Yaris hatchback, and even though he leaves after the sisters, he arrives first.

Toyota argued that the ad did not show any laws being broken, and that it did not violate the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries Motor Vehicle Advertising Code, which says the ad broke rules by showing breaking of the speed limit and unsafe driving.



In July, Afterpay teamed up with Australia’s Rebel Wilson in an ad attempting to explain Afterpay to people, including a child, using easy to understand metaphors.

The ad drew the ire of Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), who said the commercial minimises the risk of buy-now, pay-later schemes (BNPL) such as Afterpay, and that it serves to lull consumers into using BNPL, who may not be aware of the risk in doing so.

The fact she is talking to a young child, explaining a credit product, is very disturbing,” says Fiona Guthrie, chief executive of FCA.

“Why these celebrities want to associate themselves with a product that can cause such harm is beyond us,” she says.

Afterpay initially responded by saying the intention was to explain Afterpay in a “light-hearted and relatable” manner, however Guthrie said Afterpay had agreed to ultimately pull the ad from air.

Crazy Domains


The advertisement depicts a man urinating on a wall, in an attempt to promote online businesses, saying anything can happen to actual physical stores, so people should go online instead.

Complainants raised a number of issues including discrimination against men, suggestions of nudity, and unhygienic behaviour. The fact that the ad aired during a PG time frame where kids were watching was another issue for many complainants. The complaints were upheld and the ad was removed.

The ad had the most complaints to Ad Standards by a heavy margin in the first half of 2020, with 283, leading the next best at 74.

Crazy Domains said in response to the complaints that the ad was commissioned to “demonstrate the gritty and uncontrollable things that make the real world a challenge for business”.

Sportsbetting ads in general


A common gripe these days with anyone watching live sport, is the vast amount of bettings ads during almost every ad break that accompanies the sport. The ads are funny, entertaining and effective, however with problem gambling a serious issue for a lot of Australians, there are growing calls for the number of ads to be reduced if not banned altogether.

In September 2021, Sportsbet was revealed to have spent $139 million on advertising and sponsorship in 2020, ranking as the ninth biggest advertiser in Australia in 2020. 

​​Alliance for Gambling Reform’s chief advocate, Reverend Tim Costello, says Australia should ban the ads altogether as Italy has done, saying the ads at primetime slots are grooming kids to use what is an adult product.

With the money that these betting companies give and drive to Australia’s major sports such as the AFL and NRL, it is unlikely that their numbers will be reduced anytime soon.

Conor Fowler

Conor Fowler is a writer for Marketing Mag.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment