NEWS14 August 2019

First ads banned for using gender stereotypes

Media News Trends UK

UK – The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned adverts from Volkswagen and Mondelez in the first rulings under new gender stereotyping restrictions.

Gender crop

According to the new rule, which came into force in June, adverts “must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”.

It was introduced following an ASA review of the issue, which found that some ads perpetuate “harmful” stereotypes that can restrict people’s opportunities.

The rule applies to broadcast and non-broadcast media, including online and social media.

The VW and Mondelez ads were banned following complaints from viewers.

The Mondelez ad for its Philadelphia brand depicted two fathers in a restaurant with a conveyor belt. While they are talking, one of their babies is whisked away on it. The VW ad shows men engaging in adventurous activities and a woman sitting next to a pram.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) questioned the rulings. Director of legal and public affairs, Richard Lindsay, said: "The ASA’s rulings on the VW and Mondelez ads are surprising and concerning and we question how either can really be considered likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

"The IPA welcomed the introduction of the new rule, but we stressed the importance of ensuring that its implementation, along with the accompanying guidance, avoided unintended, damaging consequences, such as the stifling of creativity or the creation of new stereotypes. These rulings raise many questions and are bound to cause confusion in the industry over whether, and if so, how, ads are able to feature people going about their daily lives."