The Advertising Standards Authority has banned its first two TV adverts for “perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes” following the introduction of new rules against such content in UK advertising. The regulator has ruled against the ads for car brand Volkswagen and soft cheese brand Philadelphia being broadcast in their current form again, following complaints from the public and an assessment by the ASA board.
The TV ad for Philadelphia shows two new dads distracted by food on a conveyor belt in a restaurant, with both accidentally leaving their babies on top of the moving conveyor. When they realise, the dads rescue their children and one says “Let’s not tell mum”. The ASA said that the ad “relied on the stereotype that men were unable to care for children as well as women and implied that the fathers had failed to look after the children properly because of their gender.” Mondelez, Philadelphia’s parent company, responded that it showed a positive image of men with an active role in childcare in modern society, and that it deliberately chose to avoid the stereotype of two new mothers with the childcare responsibilities.
Volkswagen’s ad for the eGolf shows two male astronauts in a spaceship, and a male para-athlete doing the long jump, then a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram, with the tagline “When we learn to adapt, we can achieve anything.” Complaints against the ad said that it showed men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a women in passive or care-giving roles, though Volkswagen argued that the roles depicted – an astronaut and athlete – were not gender specific. The ASA stated that “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,” and therefore deemed it harmful.
The ASA released a report into gender stereotyping in advertising two years ago as evidence to support its changing regulations, which finally came into effect in June 2019.