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ASA bans two ads under new gender stereotyping rules

14 Aug 2019  |  Michaela Jefferson 
ASA bans two ads under new gender stereotyping rules

Pictured: Banned ad for Philadelphia. Source: Mondelez/YouTube

Mondelez and Volkswagen are the first brands to fall foul of the Committee of Advertising Practice's new rules on harmful gender stereotypes.

Both brands have had their ads banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), with neither ad allowed to appear again in its current form.

The Mondelez UK spot, which ran across live TV and video on demand in June, advertised its soft cheese brand Philadelphia. The ad showed two men leaving their babies on a conveyor belt after being distracted by food, followed by one of the men saying: "Let's not tell mum".

Although Mondelez, Clearcast and ITV defended the spot, with Mondelez arguing that the ad showed a positive image of men with an active parental role in modern society, the ASA said the ad perpetuated a stereotype that men are ineffective at childcare.

A Mondelez International spokesperson says the company is "extremely disappointed" with the ASA's decision.

"We take our advertising responsibility very seriously and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all UK regulation. This includes pre-approval from a recognised television advertising body, before any advert is aired to the public.”

Volkswagen UK's TV ad for its eGolf car range has also been banned for juxtaposing images of men as astronauts and para-athletes with women who are sleeping or sitting next to a pram. The ASA said the ad gave the impression that those activites were exclusively associated with one gender.

“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," Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing for Volkswagen UK, says in response to the ban.

"Just like the men, they are shown taking part in challenging situations, such as in a tent perched on a mountainside and in a spacecraft, while another is shown to be embarking on what is surely life’s greatest and most valuable role – raising another human being.”

Volkswagen added that it is a responsible advertiser with a strong track record of promoting diversity and challenging gender stereotypes in its advertising, with recent examples including its 'more than one thing' advert for T-Cross.

"Despite disappointment with this decision Volkswagen UK is keen to work to the guidelines of the ASA, including these new regulations concerning gender, and will consider these during the creation of future advertising campaigns," the company said.

Meanwhile, Nestle's bottled water brand Buxton has escaped a ban despite receiving a number of complaints.

Those who complained argued that Buxton's television advert, which features a female ballerina, male drummer and male rower, contrasts men and women taking part in activities traditionally associated with their gender. However, the ASA noted that each skill is shown to be "equally difficult" and therefore does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP)'s ban on harmful gender stereotypes came into full force in June following a six month implementation period. The rules cover both broadcaster and non-broadcast media, including online advertising and social.

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