17 Dec 2018

UK regulators to ban gender stereotype advertising

Advertisements deemed to be harmful though use of gender stereotypes are to be banned by UK regulators.


Following a public consultation, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced that ads will no longer be able to depict harmful gender stereotypes. The new rule will come into force on 14 June 2019.

Rule ‘calls time’

The new rule in the advertising codes, which will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media (including online and social media), states: [Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. The review, which was conducted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes. Shahriar Coupal, CAP director, said ‘harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements. Nearly all advertisers know this, but for those that don’t, our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society.’ CAP will carry out a 12 month review after the new rule comes into force to make sure it’s meeting its objective to prevent harmful gender stereotypes.


CAP has published guidance to help advertisers stick to the new rule by providing examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in ads, including 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, and, ads that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks. The rule and guidance does not intend to prevent ads from featuring glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles, nor use of a sole gender.

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