I don’t like to complain, but …

Complaining isn’t something I make a habit of doing. Yes, I moan a bit here and there. OK, I can whinge, but a real, formal complaint? No, not often.

But recently, like some friends of mine, it proved too much when the travel firm booking.com decided that it would be fun to splurt the word ‘booking’ all over their latest TV ad. Of course, no one would ever have thought it could have been a substitute for the F-word, would they?

No one? Well I did and so it seems did quite a few other people. For the first time in my life I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority and, yesterday, they replied:

Your complaint – Booking.com

Thank you for your recent complaint.  Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing a response.

We have received over 2,000 complaints about the Booking.com ads that appeared on TV and in the cinema.  Most complainants have objected that the repetition of “booking” suggests a swear word.  We have decided to formally investigate this ad, specifically whether it is offensive, whether it was responsibly scheduled on TV and placed in cinema screenings and whether it is likely to encourage or condone swearing amongst children.

We will ask Booking.com and Clearcast (the clearance body for TV ads in the UK) to comment on the complaints.  We will then draft a recommendation and put this to the ASA Councils for adjudication.  Once the Councils have made a decision, the ruling will be published on our website

There is a calculation that companies make about the weight of complaints. I don’t know exactly what it is but 2,000 is a decent number. We’ll just have to wait and see what the outcome of the investigation is now, won’t we?


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