Memo to UK politicians: don’t get hung up about gender-specific ads to girls and boys – they’re different

c65481ce-e294-b834-6dda-18dfb02c530fI’ve just seen some political madness from a group of Labour MPs who have called for an end to ads for ‘boys toys’ and ‘girls toys’, claiming that they limit the prospects of girls later in life. Not boys, just girls. That’ll be because this is proposed by a woman, Katy Clark (left), a Labour backbencher.

She is urging retailers (note not manufacturers) to “take action to end unnecessary gender-specific advertising”. What a load of nonsense and a waste of time for Parliament to get distracted on daft political correctness. Well if she hasn’t noticed gender-specific advertising applies to all ages, not just children and that’s because the genders are different.

I’ve sat in a few industry sponsored discussions with politicians in the past and my experience has been the ‘loony left’ are alive and kicking with strange and bizarre points of view fuelled by angry passion. Also the government machinery has gone so far down the road of political correctness it can be disturbing dealing with the middle management of some government departments.

A point missed by the critics of the advertising industry is that much of the imaging we see is purely a mirror on society rather than some sinister plot. It seems quite natural to feature girls in advertising for tampons rather than boys and equally quite natural to feature boys in advertising for aftershave rather than girls.

On what basis can Katy Clark suggest that advertising to girls can limit their prospects later in life? It sounds like a personal hang-up due to some event in her life. Stop wasting people’s time Katy and get on with your proper job of helping Labour to recover credibility as a fit for purpose party to govern the country where the real energy is needed.

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies.
Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.

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