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Ban on adverts which reinforce negative gender stereotypes comes into force

There are already existing regulations around gender stereotypes. This Protein World advert was banned in 2015. Credit: PA

Adverts which reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and are likely to cause "harm or widespread offence" have been banned.

From Friday, rules have been implemented to stamp out negative portrayals of genders, such as men struggling with household chores or girls being less academic than boys.

Advertisers will have to think of new ways to sell their products, as the traditional portrayal of men performing macho roles with women being submissive, or men struggling with their children, could fall foul of the new rules.

Boys shown as daring and adventurous, while girls are shown as caring an emotional could also contravene new standards, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) warned.

This Aptimel advert was found to reinforce stereotypes about women being better at dealing with young children than men. Credit: Aptimel

The rule change comes after a review which found campaigns could reinforce harmful stereotypes, which in turn could limit people's choice, aspirations and opportunities.

It will not veto all forms of gender stereotypes, with the review falling short of calling for a ban on ads depicting scenarios such as a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks.

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) already applies rules to ban ads which include gender stereotypes on grounds of objectification, inappropriate sexualisation, and depiction of unhealthily thin body images.

CAP said the evidence from a recent review did not show that gender stereotypes were always problematic or that the use of seriously offensive or potentially harmful stereotypes in advertising was endemic.

The aim of the new rule was to identify specific harm that should be prevented, rather than banning all gender stereotypes outright.

Advertisers have had six months to prepare for the new legislation. Credit: PA

Advertisers have had six months to prepare for the new legislation.

The ASA will deal with complaints on a case-by-case basis.

A review by CAP will be carried out in 12 months to ensure the legislation is meeting its objective.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.

“It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals, and we’re pleased with how the industry has already begun to respond.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “Advertising at its best should be a positive and progressive force in society.

“The new rule on tackling harmful gender stereotypes in adverts from the Committees of Advertising Practice is an important addition to the expectations we all have for responsible advertising.”