Adverts that portray gender stereotypes could be banned by watchdog

UK

Adverts that portray gender stereotypes could be banned under new rules as the UK watchdog looks to tackle the harm they cause. 

Women being seen as responsible for doing housework or men being seen as the family breadwinner are the sorts of scenarios advertisers will be banned from using in rules put forward by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), an advisory body to the regulator of adverts in the UK. 

CAP has launched a public consultation on its proposed changes, which will affect both broadcast and non-broadcast media. 

The new rules state that “advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”.

Ella Smillie, the lead on the gender stereotyping project at CAP, said adverts affect the decisions people take in their lives. 

“Our review of the evidence strongly indicates that particular forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take,” Ms Smillie said.

In 2012 Asda’s Christmas advert received more than 600 complaints after it presented an exhausted mother doing all the work for the festive celebrations. 

She was shown cleaning, making beds, shopping, cooking and wrapping presents.

CAP director Shahriar Coupal said these types of gender stereotypes had the potential to cause “serious offence” and “harm”. 

“That’s why we’re proposing a new rule and guidance to restrict particular gender stereotypes in ads where we believe there’s an evidence-based case to do so,” Mr Coupal said.

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