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First UK ads banned for gender stereotyping

August 14, 2019

TV commercials from food giant Mondelez and German car manufacturer Volkswagen are the first to be banned under new UK gender stereotyping rules.

A ban on ads featuring “harmful gender stereotypes” or those which are likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” came into force in June.

The first banned ad, for Philadelphia cheese, showed two fathers leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt. Some 128 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the ad. Complainants said the advertisement perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of looking after children and were so incompetent they would place infants at risk.

The second banned ad, for Volkswagen’s eGolf car, showed men being adventurous as a woman sat by a pram. Complainants said that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role.

Jess Tye, investigations manager at the Advertising Standards Authority, told the BBC that gender stereotypes in advertising could cause “real-world harms”.

“Ads that specifically contrast male and female stereotypes need to be handled with care,” she said. “It’s about thinking about what the cumulative effect of those gender stereotypes might be.”

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