Wednesday 29 January 2020

Gender stereotype ads banned in UK

Ad for Philadelphia, showing a baby on a conveyor belt. Photo: PA
Ad for Philadelphia, showing a baby on a conveyor belt. Photo: PA

Adverts featuring gender stereotypes - including one featuring two dads leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt - are to be banned from UK television under new rules.

Some 128 viewers complained to Britain's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a Mondelez ad for Philadelphia cream cheese.

The ad showed two dads forgetting about a baby, leaving it on a restaurant buffet conveyor belt while distracted by food, and agreeing not to "tell mum".

Complainants said the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men cannot care for children and that their incompetence would place them at risk.


Under the new rules that came into effect in the UK on June 14, ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence".

Mondelez UK argued the ad showed a positive image of men with an active role in childcare, adding it chose two dads to avoid the stereotype of new mothers as primary carers.

A Mondelez spokesperson said the company was disappointed with the decision.

The ASA upheld the complaint, however, saying the ad portrayed the men as "somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively".

Three people complained about a Volkswagen eGolf car ad which showed a sleeping woman and a man in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts, a male para-athlete doing the long jump, before a final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram.

The complainants argued that the ad showed men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast with a woman in a care-giving role.

Volkswagen UK said the ad made no suggestion that caregiving was uniquely associated with women, but the ASA disagreed, saying the ad "directly contrasted stereotypical male and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender".

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