ASA Calls Time on Sexist Advertising Stereotypes
From June 2019, ads will no longer be allowed to depict men and women in gender-stereotypical roles.
Ads which perpetuate sexist stereotypes - such as a woman cleaning the house while her male partner reads the paper with his feet up, or a hapless dad cack-handedly struggling to change a nappy - will be banned from next year, under new ASA rules.
Adverts 'must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence' states the new rule, which comes into force on 14 June 2019 and will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media, including online and social media.
It follows a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the ASA - prompted in part by the public outcry over Protein World's infamous Are You Beach Body Ready? ads - that found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes.
Asda's 2012 Christmas ad, Mum, was one of the ads examined in the ASA review
For advertisers worried about landing themselves in a regulatory quagmire come June, CAP, the ASA's sister organisation, has published a list of example scenarios which might infringe the rule. They include:
- An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.
- Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
- An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
- An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
- An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.