Gender stereotyping has become an increasingly controversial topic in recent years, leading the UK's Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA") to undertake a thorough review of the damaging effects of its inclusion in advertising.
Typical gender stereotyping scenarios would include depictions of a family creating a mess and leaving the clean-up to the mother, or a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks.
ASA has now published a report acknowledging that harmful stereotypes in advertisements have the potential to "restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults". Whilst ASA already bans ads that objectify and/or sexualize women, it now recognizes the need to take a tougher stance on gender stereotyping, even where subtle.
As a consequence of ASA's report, the UK's Committee of Advertising Practice ("CAP") has announced that in order to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in advertising and clarify what is acceptable moving forwards; new rules, guidance, training and advice will be introduced into the UK Advertising Codes later this year following a period of consultation in the spring.
Advertisers should now be taking to steps to ensure not only that they are in compliance with the current rules, but also that they are prepared for incoming changes. Failure to do so may lead to banned ads and therefore wasted costs, reputational damage, loss of prime advertising slots, and referral to Ofcom or Trading Standards.