ASA in a tangle in bid to save us from “gender stereotypes”

The UK’s ASA has banned its first ads under its new fatwa against “harmful gender stereotypes,” ads from Mondelez’s Philadelphia and VW which ASA investigations manager Jess Tye says could cause “real world harms.”

In the case of Philadelphia, which got lots of complaints, think this means: don’t try this at home.

Then there’s Volkswagen’s eGolf which shows a woman relaxing on a park bench with a baby in a pram following shots of men camping on a cliff-edge and then one of a disabled male athlete. Because it shows girls have less fun, it seems. Actually it’s trying to make the point – not that skilfully admittedly – that the VW eGolf makes your life easier.

This attracted just three complaints and banning it is just silly.

There’s a term in literary criticism, suspension of disbelief, which means: a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. As in Harry Potter, for example.

Isn’t this the case with many ads?

If we’re to take everything literally then there’s no hope.

PS More on this here. Essentially the IPA (agencies) and ISBA (advertisers) are saying it’s mad, ASA says it’s doing its job.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.

One comment

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    I agree, this is yet more pc lunacy. Adverts used to be colourful. funny and memorable, but now too many of them seem to be serious and soullessly obsessed with making statements about feminism, sexual identity and multiculturalism. If anything, mosts ad’s put me off their products nowadays because of that.