Two ads banned for gender stereotyping: our views

15 Aug 2019

This week the Advertising Standards Authority banned two ads for contravening UK gender stereotyping rules. BLM partner Steve Kuncewicz tells us what this means for the creative industry and why it’s crucial that more guidance is provided:

“The ASA has a wide remit when looking at campaign material and dealing with complaints about harm and offence caused by advertising is a central as part of the operation of the advertising codes; harmful gender stereotypes being one part of that. However, the industry is suggesting that the ASA has gone one step too far in this initial set of rulings around a new strand of regulation.

“The tension between ad creatives being legally compliant and getting a creative message across is something the industry has to deal with every day. The ultimate question is whether, in the ASA’s view, a large proportion of the wider public would look at these ads and either take offence or be caused harm. Both ads were cleared for broadcast by Clearcast, which would have taken gender stereotyping issues into consideration, so from the advertiser’s point of view, they’ll feel that they’ve done all they need to do to satisfy existing regulation. They therefore need much more certainty and guidance about the creative direction they need to take in the future to stay on the right side of that line.

“We are going to need to see more similar complaints and the approach which the ASA takes in relation to them for the creative sector to be able to say with any certainty how the new gender stereotyping rules will work in the long term. We understand the ASA is trying to do the right thing socially but what the right thing is practically, is yet to be defined.”

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Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

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Steve Kuncewicz

Steve Kuncewicz

Partner, Head of Creative, Digital & Marketing sector group,
London, Manchester

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