A fall in the number of complaints about food, drink and alcohol adverts demonstrates a move by companies to dissociate their brands with irresponsible behaviour and binge drinking, according to the Incorporated Society of British Advertising.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s 2004 report shows gripes about food and drink and alcohol advertising fell 40% and 37% respectively.

While the total number of non-broadcast complaints fell 11%, a record 1,835 ads had to be changed or withdrawn, with the most common complaints about the leisure, computers and telecoms and health and beauty sectors. The ASA, which took over regulation of radio and television advertising from Ofcom last year, said the number of broadcast complaints went up 9%.

Strict new rules on alcohol advertising, which were published last year, came under the spotlight with a ruling against a “Something for the ladies” poster for Diageo’s Archers.

However, Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at ISBA, said while complaints about alcohol advertising were high-profile, the industry had responded to the threat of legislation such as traffic light labelling by showing self-regulation could work.

“Alcohol advertising has moved away from overtly laddish or sexual references. People don’t want to see their favourite brands linked to yobbish behaviour.”

The ASA, however, warned that while the industry could take some cheer from the figures “concerns about alcohol and food advertising are still being voiced”.