Is the ASA’s bid to clean up ads the death knell for humour?

The UK’s ASA seems to have put the cat among the pigeons with its somewhat prescriptive plan to ban “gender stereotyping” ads, with lots of people saying its too bossy boots/Big Brother (the book that is).

Here’s a compilation of supposedly banned but, in most cases, undeniably funny ads (mainly from the US) which all include the above gender stereotyping, as much humour does.

And, apart from predictable entries from Carl’s Jr, there are some big brands in there including Coca-Cola and the fabulous British John West ad (which certainly wasn’t banned). A lot of them are pretty old admittedly.

But was John West stereotyping? It shows a fisherman as stupid. Does that count?

On about four minutes there’s a wonderful Doritos number that somehow or other got made (also below).

So do the ASA’s strictures signal the end to funny ads?

They won’t make being a creative any easier that’s for sure, giving nervy clients the licence to reject any script looking vaguely contentious.

Had such rules been in operation in the great days of CDP (nearly 40 years ago it should be said) they wouldn’t have got much TV out of the door. Here’s one from 1970.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.