An advert from online bookmaker Sportsbet has become the most complained about ad in Australian history, after receiving almost double that of the ad which held the previous record.

Ad Standards, Australia’s advertising regulator, noted that the ad sent a “false message to young males that gambling will improve their sexual appeal”. It shows a man, naked from the waist up, appearing to “manscape” his genital region.

In its case report on the ad, Ad Standards provided a sample of complainants’ comments : “The ad implies a link between wagering and sexual success or enhanced attractiveness because the man shaving is mocked and called “princess” indicating that gambling will make him more attractive than shaving his genitals.

“The ad also employs sexual appeal in a manner that degrades a naked young male by encouraging him to waste money on gambling to increase his sexual appeal rather than personal grooming. This sends a false message to young males that gambling will improve their sexual appeal. It is also gross and creepy seeing a naked man behaving as though he is shaving his genitals in my lounge room.

“The implication that the person was masturbating together with another voice from off-screen calling to him as “Romeo” which reinforced that implication.

“A naked man, from below the navel, obviously doing something to himself is highly offensive. it is disturbing that this ad depicts masturbation of some form in prime time viewing. it is shown when young children, mothers and fathers are watching tv in prime time. they are watching the news, the football. it is disgusting. they would not dare have a female do this.

“Im am disgusted that this ad is being shown when at this time children are watching it is highly inapropriate and very embarrassing what does a sport bet have to do with a man shaving his genital region highly innapropriate.

“Sexiest, Demeaning to men.

“Man sitting mostly naked clipping his genital region, then jumps as he apparently injurs himself – totally inappropriate for this time slot, sitting watching news with my young family”.

Ad Standards Chief Executive Fiona Jolly said the large number of complaints showed consumers knew there were standards that advertisers had to adhere to.

She added: “This year we’ve had two ads that have broken the record for the biggest number of complaints and, of interest, is [that] all of the top 10 were on free-to-air television.”

Jolly also urged advertisers to familiarise themselves with provisions in the code of ethics, after the Ad Standards received a total of 6600 complaints for adverts in 2018 – another record for Australia’s independent advertising complaints adjudicator.

“The things that traditionally receive the most complaints under the code of ethics are issues around the depiction of women and sexualised images,” she continued.

“Advertisers need to really think about who they’re going to be showing the ad to – so not who they’re targeting, but who the ad is actually going to be seen by.”