First ads banned for contravening UK gender stereotyping rules

Mark Sweeney – The Guardian Aug 14, 2019

Two television ads, one featuring new dads bungling comically while looking after their babies and the other a woman sitting next to a pram, have become the first to be banned under new rules designed to reduce gender stereotyping.

The Advertising Standards Authority banned the ads, for Volkswagen and Philadelphia cream cheese, following complaints from the public that they perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

The new rules, introduced at the beginning of the year, ban the depiction of men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities to help stop “limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take”.

The ad for Volkswagen’s electric eGolf vehicle showed a series of scenes including a man and a woman in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts, a male para-athlete and a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram. Text stated: “When we learn to adapt we can achieve anything.”

Complainants said the ad showed men engaged in adventurous activities,that unlike her male counterpart, the female rock climber was “passive” because she was asleep, and that the woman with the pram was depicted in a stereotypical care-giving role.


Volkswagen said its ad was not sexist and that caring for a newborn was a life-changing experience about adaptation, regardless of the gender of the parent depicted.

The ASA, however, “concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm”.

In the ad for the Mondelez-owned cream cheese brand, two new dads were shown eating lunch at a restaurant where food circulated on a conveyor belt. While chatting they accidentally find their babies are whisked away on it. “Let’s not tell mum,” one of them says.


Complainants said the tongue-in-cheek ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype suggesting men were incapable of caring for children and would put them at risk as a result of their incompetence.

 

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