New rules set to ban gender stereotyping in adverts

Marco Green
December 16, 2018

While warning that "the use of humour or banter is unlikely to mitigate against the types of harm or serious or widespread offence identified in this guidance", the watchdog stressed that companies would be allowed to mock gender stereotypes in a way that would encourage societal change.

To justify the move, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has elaborated that stereotypes in ads risk contributing to "how people see themselves and their role in society", and as a effect can prevent people from social advancement.

Scenarios where men or women fail to do something and it is implied this is due to their gender, for instance women not being able to park or men being unable to change nappies.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) said that any advert aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing would also be banned.

Advertisements that perpetuate gender stereotypes, such as men struggling with household chores or women being less able to park, will be banned from next year.

"Nearly all advertisers know this, but for those that don't, our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society". "But if an advert showed a woman being exclusively responsible for cleaning up mess within a home while a man sits around with his feet up, then that would be a problem".

Men will be able to be depicted dong DIY tasks
Men will be able to be depicted dong DIY tasks

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, which is responsible for writing and maintaining the UK Advertising Codes, said: "Harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements". For example, an ad that depicts a plus-size woman and implies her physique is a significant reason for her not having a successful romantic life will be banned but an advert with a glamorous thin woman having a successful romantic life won't be.

Cap will carry out a 12-month review after the new rule comes into force on June 19 to make sure it is meeting its objective.

Adverts may also be banned if they belittle men or boys for carrying out stereotypically female roles or tasks.

Ella Smillie, who is the "gender stereotyping project lead" at CAP has been widely quoted as saying that the organisation's "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".

Some suggested the new rule went too far.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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