Ads with 'hapless' fathers and mother with pram banned under gender stereotype rules

The banned Mondelez ad for Philadelphia cheese Credit: ASA/PA

Two television adverts which purportedly used gender stereotypes have been banned by the industry regulator.

One advert featured two dads forgetting about their children on a sushi restaurant-style conveyor belt.

The ad, produced for soft cheese brand Philadelphia, attracted complaints as viewers believed it showed fathers as incompetent and willing to put their children at risk.

A second advert for Volkswagen was banned after three viewers complained it showed a woman in a stereotypically female role.

The Advertising Standards Agency said the commercials flouted rules it introduced earlier this year.

  • Why have the adverts been banned?

A scene from the Volkswagen ad which was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. Credit: ASA/PA

The Advertising Standards Agency introduced new standards in June, stating ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence."

It ruled the Philadelphia advert portrayed the two fathers as "somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively".

It said 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".

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The Volkswagen advert, which showed men in activity based roles followed by a woman reading next to a pram, was also ruled to be against the guidelines.

The regulator said: "By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered 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.

"We concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code."

  • What has been the reaction to the ads being pulled?

Mondelez UK, which created the Philadelphia ad, argued it showed a positive image of men with a responsible and active role in childcare in modern society, adding that it chose two dads to deliberately avoid the typical stereotype of new mothers with the responsibility of childcare.

Volkswagen UK said that ad made no suggestion that caregiving was uniquely associated with women, and the fact that the woman was calm and reading could be seen as going against the stereotypical depiction of harassed or anxious parents in advertising.

In a fiery statement, Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing for Volkswagen UK, said: "As both a leader within this business and as a mother, I do not believe that the roles of the women in this advertisement are in any way portrayed negatively."

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