14 Aug 2019

Regulatory consultant, Nicky Strong, comments on ASA’s recent rulings on gender stereotypes in advertising for Mondelez UK Ltd and Volkswagen Group UK Ltd:

"These two rulings clearly indicate the ASA's direction of travel and the approach it will take on complaints around gender stereotyping. They reinforce the points made in CAP's guidance around contrasting male and female stereotypes, ads depicting one gender's inability to perform a task and that using humour or comic behaviour in ads will not prevent the ASA from finding an advertiser to be in breach of the rules.

"Indeed, both ads fall squarely into the examples given in the guidance (an adventurous man contrasted with a delicate/dainty female and a man struggling to change a baby's nappy), so it should come as no surprise that it has taken the view it has on both these ads, which interestingly were shown on 14 June, the day that the new rule came into force.

"By contrast, the complaint against the Nestle ad for Buxton water was not upheld. Although the ad depicted a female ballet dancer, a male drummer and a male rower, the ballet dancer was shown as being tough and athletic, rather than delicate and dainty, with all three skills being shown to be equally difficult and demanding.

"As a result, and again in line with the Guidance, the ad was not considered to be perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes."