• ASA cracks down on gender stereotyping ads

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    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has proposed new rules cracking down on ads that are seen to present activities only appropriate for one gender or another, ads that ‘body shame’ young women and those that mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.

    The ASA’s proposal are outlined in a new report – ‘Depictions, Perceptions and Harm’ – that was conducted between the watchdog and research firm GfK. In particular, the ASA is looking to address the portrayal of women in ads, following a major crackdown on airbrushing which has seen the banning of beauty ads featuring top models and actresses including Julia Roberts, Cara Delevingne and Natalie Portman.

    Ads that feature models who look unhealthily thin will also be banned, along with new clarification regarding ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualise women and girls.

    The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) will develop new standards on ads which the ASA will administer and enforce in 2018.

    “Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people,” commented ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

    The ASA has clarified that a blanket ban wouldn’t be implemented – men doing DIY jobs and women cleaning are acceptable – but versions of these kind of ads would come under scrutiny, such as “family members creating a mess while a woman is seen having the sole responsibility cleaning it up”.

    “Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children,” said Ella Smillie, lead author of the report.

    “Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take. Tougher standards in the areas we’ve identified will address harms and ensure that modern society is better represented.”


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien