First TV adverts banned over gender stereotyping rules

The gender roles were deemed "likely to cause harm"

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Two television advertisements have become the first to be banned under new rules on gender stereotyping.

New guidelines, which came into force in June, say adverts "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence".

A Philadelphia soft cheese advert by Mondelez received 128 complaints for showing two new dads leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt while they were distracted by food.

Complainants said it demonstrated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) noted the advert’s “light-hearted” intention but ruled that it portrayed the men as "hapless and inattentive” and implied they were “unable to care for the children effectively".

Mondelez UK argued that the sequence showed a positive image of men with a responsible and active role in childcare, adding that it deliberately chose two dads to avoid the stereotype of new mothers being responsible for childcare.

Meanwhile, three people complained about a Volkswagen ad that featured two male astronauts and a male para-athlete compared to women who were sitting with a pram or sleeping.

The ASA said the contrasting images of men “carrying out adventurous activities” and women in appearing in “passive, care-giving roles” meant that the sequence presented gender stereotypes “in a way that was likely to cause harm”.

Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing for Volkswagen UK, said: "As both a leader within this business and as a mother, I do not believe that the roles of the women in this advertisement are in any way portrayed negatively,” adding that a parenting role is “surely life's greatest and most valuable role”.

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