UK Bans ‘Offensive’ Traditional Family Stereotypes From Adverts
Industry watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority imposes rules
Advertising regulators in the UK will begin banning traditional 'harmful' family stereotypes from adverts as part of a new crackdown that came into force on Friday.
The new rules for advertisers include not using “gender stereotypes which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense.”
The examples of violations include woman failing to park a car, a man failing to change a diaper, or adverts that imply women are bound to domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning.
Industry watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority will assess complaints against such 'offensive' ads.
Although it does not have the power to impose fines, the advertisers will be bound by the terms of their licenses and could lose them if they violates the rules.
Last year, the watchdog said it would ban "gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense."
According to The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP):
Adverts that show 'harmful stereotypes "contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society," and can hold some people back.
Policy expert at CAP, Ella Smillie told the BBC:
"There is nothing in our new guide to suggest that ads can't feature people carrying out gender-typical roles."
"The issue would be if in that depiction it suggested that that's the only option available to that gender and never carried out by someone of another gender."
"So for example, if you had a woman doing the cleaning, we wouldn't anticipate a problem," she added.
"But if you had an advert with a man creating lots of mess and putting his feet up while a woman cleaned up around him, and it was very clear that she was the only person that did that at home, that's the kind of thing that could be a problem."
Regulators will consider the perspective of the group being stereotyped when deciding whether an ad should be allowed.
The use of “[humor] or banter” will not be enough of an excuse to exempt ads from the ban, they said.
According to the ASA, scenarios that would likely face a ban would include:
- An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating a mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
- 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 [diapers]; 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 advertisement 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 [emphasize] 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 [mothers] 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