From 14 June 2019, ads will no longer be able to show content which depict harmful gender stereotypes. These could be adverts which show men struggling with housework or childcare, or girls being less academic than boys. This comes after a public consultation and based on evidence collected by the ASA which shows that advertising can have an effect in reinforcing unequal gender outcomes, and therefore affecting the choices of children, young people and adults.
The new rule states that: [Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
The rule does not seek to ban gender stereotypes completely, only ones that are considered harmful.
CAP has published guidance to help advertisers comply with the new rule by providing examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in ads. For example:
- An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
- An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender eg a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.
- Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
- An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (eg daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (eg caring) needs to be handled with care.
- An ad 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.
- An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.
The new rule and guidance does not intend to prevent ads from featuring:
- Glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles.
- One gender only including in ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender.
- Gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their negative effects.
CAP will carry out a review 12 months after the new regulation is applied to check whether it is having a positive effect or whether more needs to be done.
Having an advert banned by the ASA could affect a brand's reputation and business by attracting bad publicity.