New guidance on the use of Gender Stereotypes in advertising

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New guidance on the use of Gender Stereotypes in advertising

December 14th, 2018, Blog

Adverts showing a woman struggling to park a car or a man refusing to do housework while his wife cooks dinner will be banned from next year as part of an industry-wide crackdown on sexist stereotypes.

Under the new rules, British companies will no longer be able to create promotions that depict men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities, amid fears that such depictions are contributing to pay inequality and causing psychological harm.

Today the ASA has confirmed it plans to ban the use of harmful and offensive gender stereotypes in advertising. Along with confirming the proposed ban, they also published their guidance on the ban which is set to take effect from 14 June 2019. Advertisers will need to ensure that any planned advertising for use after 14 June 2019 complies with the new guidance.

The ban is not intend to ban the use of stereotypes all together, but is specifically targeted at those the Advertising Standards Authority would consider harmful or liable to cause serious or widespread offence. The guidance place a particular emphasis on adverts which:

  1. Juxtapose stereotypical gender traits such as:
    1. Depicting a man with his feet up whilst a women cleans; or
    2. Depicting a boy as daring, but a girl as caring.
  2. Associate success or failure with stereotypical trait, for instance:
    1. A man failing to change a nappy;
    2. A women failing to park a car; or
  3. Portray a man or women becoming more successful (whether romantically, personally or financially) as a result of their appearance being more stereotypical.

The use of humour or ‘banter’ is unlikely to mitigate against the harm or serious or widespread offence which will be caused by the use of such stereotypes in advertising.

Whilst it is important to consider all future advertising in light of the guidance, the ban will not prevent advertisements from:

  • featuring glamorous, attractive and healthy people;
  • being targeted or featuring only one specific gender: or
  • using gender stereotypes to challenge their negative effects.

If you want to find out more about the ASA codes and how they may apply to your advertisement, contact our Intellectual Property and Media Team.

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