With the banning of Bruce Willis' Sky Broadband advert, we've entered a golden era for complainers

How can one complaining individual have so much power over the silent masses?

Related Topics

While far from being a smiley face, I am not really much of a complainer. Don’t get me wrong - being Scottish, the chips on my shoulder are ornate epaulettes of resentment. However, that dissatisfaction tends to be your bog-standard, life-is-a-pain-in-the-arse-type of wingeing, rather than anything too orchestrated. I’m not often one for calling up TV stations in protest and, in truth, I regard those who do as dolts with Daily Mail ink coursing through their veins.

As an example, the banning this week by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of an advert for Sky’s broadband service, starring Bruce Willis, is probably as good a place to start as any. Apparently, the broadcaster didn’t make it clear enough in the commercial that the price they were quoting for unlimited broadband was for existing customers only. It seems there are people out there in TV land who don’t as a rule add a pinch of consumer-savvy salt to whatever is being marketed to them. I do find this amazing. But what is more so, in light of the advert’s cancellation, is how many people complained about it. The grand total? One. One viewer.

I’m genuinely excited. This can only mean we are entering a new golden age of unilateral viewer influence. That the few can have influence over so many! Does that mean that, rather than just experiencing all-consuming nausea whenever James Corden or David Walliams appear on screen, I need only phone up and make an official complaint for them to be banished from my sight? It can’t be that easy, surely?

It certainly didn’t used to be. I have only complained about one advert in all my years of watching them. A few years ago, the makers of Old El Paso fajita mix ran a commercial which saw a man fixing dinner while his wife/girlfriend spoke on the phone to a friend. As the chap made a reasonable fist of constructing the fajitas, the woman gave a running commentary to her friend, disdain peppering every word, as she cast doubt on the chances of her fella managing to serve up the food without dropping the pan on the floor, burning the food or generally leaving her gasping on the floor, begging for a stomach pump. He finally serves up the food and she begins to eat tentatively. He asks how her fajita is and she barks: “Make me another one and I’ll tell you…” He rolls his eyes and offers thanks up to the Old El Paso people. Fade to black.

I was immediately on the phone to the ASA, frothing at the mouth at the astonishing sexism of the commercial; how, if the sexes of the characters were reversed, the advert would never have got past the storyboard stage; how this kind of thing does nothing for feminism and how two wrongs don’t make a right, blah blah. They noted my complaint and that was that. A few days later, I saw the commercial again and, out of curiosity, called the ASA to find out, I suppose, if they had had enough complaints to see the advert banned. The bloke asked me to hold for a moment and then said: “We only had one complaint. A Mr MacInnes in Glasgow. We can’t really do anything if only one person complains. Sorry.”

And while I was aghast and saddened that I was the only person in the country who found such advertising offensive, my egalitarian bones were at least satisfied that consensus was still apparently vital in a democratic society. But no more, it seems.  At least when it comes to your broadband provider…

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little