The Committee of Advertising Practice ("CAP") has introduced a new rule to be added to the broadcast and nonbroadcast advertising codes in relation harmful gender stereotypes
The new rule, which will come in to force on 14 June 2019, states, "[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious widespread offence." The new rule will apply online and to social media, as well as broadcast and non-broadcast media.
The aim of the rule is not to completely eradicate using gender stereotypes but rather to ensure specific harms are prevented. As a result the rule has been drafted quite broadly and CAP has published guidance in order to help advertisers in terms of what would be banned under the new rule.
The guidance is clear that each advert will be considered in its own context and any decision made will depend on the medium the adverts appears on, the advert's intended audience and its likely response. The ASA has provided examples in its guidance. Examples of scenarios which will not be prevented are, adverts which feature glamorous, attractive or aspirational people or lifestyles, or adverts which feature only one gender (including those for products developed for and aimed at one gender). However, it has also been made clear humour or banter is not likely to mitigate the type of harm the rule is designed to combat.
In preparation for the new rule coming into effect Retail and Consumer businesses may wish to consider the content, context and medium of their adverts to ensure that no unintended harmful gender stereotypes are used.