A TV ad for the Volkswagen eGolf, seen on 14 June 2019, opened with a shot of a woman and a man in a tent. The woman was asleep and the man switched off the light and closed the tent, which was shown to be fixed to a sheer cliff face. The
following scene depicted two male astronauts floating in a space ship. Text stated When we learn to adapt. The next scene showed a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump. Text stated we can achieve anything. The final scene
showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram. A Volkswagen eGolf passed by quietly. The woman was shown looking up from her book. Text stated The Golf is electric. The 100% electric eGolf. Issue
Three complainants, who believed that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role, challenged whether it breached the Code.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The first scene of the ad showed both a man and a woman in a tent, panning out to show that it was fixed to the side of a cliff and therefore implying that they had both climbed up the steep rock face. However, the woman was shown sleeping, by
contrast with the man in the scene. Furthermore, due to the short duration of the shot and its focus on the movement of the man, it was likely that many viewers would not pick up on the fact that it featured a woman, as was the case with the
The ad then showed two male astronauts carrying out tasks in space and a male para-athlete doing the long jump. We considered that viewers would be likely to see the activities depicted as extraordinary and adventurous -- scientific and
career-based in the case of the astronauts and physical in the case of the athlete. That impression was reinforced by the claim When we learn to adapt, we can achieve anything. While we noted that a third astronaut appeared in the
background, the image was very brief and not prominent. We considered that many viewers would not notice the presence of a third person, and if they did, the image was insufficiently clear to distinguish their gender.
The first two scenes both more prominently featured male characters. While the majority of the ad was focussed on a theme of adapting to difficult circumstances and achievement, the final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench and reading, with
a pram by her side. We acknowledged that becoming a parent was a life changing experience that required significant adaptation, but taking care of children was a role that was stereotypically associated with women.
In context, the final scene (the only one that featured the product) gave the impression that the scenario had been used to illustrate the adaptation and resulting characteristic of the car -- so quiet that it did not wake the baby or register
with the mother -- rather than as a further representation of achievement, particularly as the setting was relatively mundane compared to the other scenarios.
Taking into account the overall impression of the ad, we considered that viewers were likely to focus on the occupations of the characters featured in the ad and observe a direct contrast between how the male and female characters were depicted.
By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male
and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.
We concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Volkswagen Group UK Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm, including by directly contrasting male and female
roles and characteristics in a way that implied they were uniquely associated with one gender.
Offsite Comment: Stereotypically Stupid: The ASA's Latest Slice Of Lunacy
A TV ad and video on demand (VOD) ad for the soft cheese, Philadelphia:
a. The TV ad, seen on 14 June 2019, featured a woman passing a baby to a man who then held the baby in his arms. Another man appeared carrying a baby in a car seat. The first man said New dad, too? and the second man nodded. The scene was
revealed to be a restaurant with a conveyor belt serving buffet food. The men chatted, saying Wow, look at this lunch, Yeah, hard to choose and This looks good, whilst a sitting baby and a car seat were seen on the moving conveyor belt, as the
men were distracted by selecting and eating their lunch. The first man then noticed his baby had gone around the conveyor belt, said errr and argh!, and moved across the room to pick the baby up. The second man picked the baby in the car seat off
of the conveyor belt, and one of the men said Let's not tell mum.
b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV Hub, on 18 June 2019, featured the same content.
The complainants, who believed the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children and would place them at risk as a result of their incompetence, challenged whether the ads were in breach of the
Rather than the ads depicting a harmful stereotype, Clearcast thought the ads depicted an example of a momentary lapse in concentration by somewhat overwhelmed and tired new parents which was quickly realized and rectified. They did not think the
ads showed the new fathers being unable to look after the babies properly because of their gender, but instead it was established early on that they were new dads and unused to dealing with young children. They did not believe the ads were a
representation of all fathers and did not believe it suggested that the fathers in the ads, or fathers more generally, were incapable of parenting.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The CAP and BCAP Code stated Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. The joint CAP and BCAP guidance said that ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical
roles, but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely associated with one gender. The guidance provided examples which were likely to be unacceptable, which included An ad that
depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man's inability to change nappies; a woman's inability to park a car.
We considered the scenario represented two new fathers in sole charge of their children, who both became distracted when choosing their lunch and subsequently failed to notice when the children were carried away on a conveyor belt. We
acknowledged the action was intended to be light-hearted and comical and there was no sense that the children were in danger. We considered, however, that the men were portrayed as somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being
unable to care for the children effectively.
We recognised that the ad depicted new parents and could therefore be seen as a characterisation of new parents as inexperienced and learning how to adapt to parenthood. We also recognised that, regardless of their gender, it was common for
parents to ask their children (often jokingly) not to tell their other parent about something that had happened. However, in combination with the opening scene in which one of the babies was handed over by the mother to the father, and the final
scene in which one of the fathers said Let's not tell mum, we considered the ad relied on the stereotype that men were unable to care for children as well as women and implied that the fathers had failed to look after the children properly
because of their gender.
We also considered that the narrative and humour in the ad derived from the use of the gender stereotype. We did not consider that the use of humour in the ad mitigated the effect of the harmful stereotype; indeed it was central to it, because
the humour derived from the audiences' familiarity with the gender stereotype being portrayed.
We therefore concluded that the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype, namely that men were ineffective at childcare, and was in breach of the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Mondelez Ltd to ensure their advertising did not perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes, including suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely associated
with one gender.
Wicked Campervans with humorous slogans that offend easily offended politicians would be banned from being registered in all states and territories of Australia, under a plan signed off at a national meeting of transport ministers.
Each state agreed to deregister vans which refused to have humorous slogans taken down following a complaint, and then ensure the van could not simply be re-registered in another jurisdiction.
Queensland Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey has claimed Wicked is exploiting a loophole by registering the vans in other states to get around the ban.
An advert for the Nottingham air conditioning company Not Just Cooling has been banned from local buses.
The ad was booked to appear on seven buses in the city but Adverta, which places adverts on buses and trams, blocked it and claimed it could cause offence.
Lee Davies, who designed the ad, said it was a little bit of harmless fun.
PC Miserablist, Professor Carrie Paechter, director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, said that the advert was like something out of the 1950s and called for it to be banned. She whinged:
If I had young children, I wouldn't want them passing that on the way to school, because of the messages it gives them about society. The subliminal message about society is that it's OK to comment on women's bodies, and comment on women's
bodies as if they are the possession of someone else - 'your wife'.
It also gives the subliminal message that it's the man of the house that's responsible for getting the air conditioning fixed.
I don't want to demonise the company or the company's owner ...BUT... it is a foolish advert and it needs to come down.
The Advertising Standards Authority decided this advert was not offensive or irresponsible in 2015 - but PC rules have changed since then.
The ASA said it had not received any complaints about the advert in the latest fracas.
Less a story of moral panic and censorship wrapped up as a fight against gender stereotyping -- though it's definitely that too -- and more a prime example of how the BBC will manipulate news reports to fit their own agenda
Authorities on the Greek is land of Santorini have refused to allow an ad campaign that shows an exhausted donkey next to the words Donkeys Suffer for Tourists. Please Don't Ride Them to be run on local buses and taxis. The ads were
intended to be placed on vehicles across the island in time for the peak tourist season.
A local ad company representative explained that because many bus and taxi drivers also own donkeys who transport tourists up steep steps, the municipality of Santorini refused to issue the necessary authorisation to run the ads.
A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:
a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?. As he
approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan.
Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.
b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.
c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue
Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.
Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand's philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the
audience's decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the
story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.
In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads,
there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the
character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we
considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?.
Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that
the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen
consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.
An amusing advert for AirAsia has wound up the easily offended in Australia. The advert containing the phrase Get off in Thailand was posted around the city of Brisbane to promote the airline's direct route to Bangkok.
Collective Shout, a feminist campaign group claimed that the advert was promoting sex tourism in Thailand.
Melinda Liszewski, a campaigner at Collective Shout spotted the adverts on a Brisbane bus and posted the image to social media. She accused the airline of promoting sex tourism.
A spokeswoman for Air Asia told the BBC:
AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised.
AirAsia can confirm the advertising campaign has ended and we instructed our media partners to have the advertising removed as soon as possible today from all locations.
Brisbane City councillor Kara Cook branded the campaign an absolute disgrace and said it should never have appeared on our city's streets.
Just before Christmas last year, one person complained that a South African TV commercial for Chicken Licken was offensive and the ad was duly banned.
The advert was quite witty and made for a good news story which was picked up by major newswire services such as the Associated Press and AFP. News that SA's new regulator, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) had deemed the ad offensive
popped up in New Zealand, Australia, America, India, and the UK. In South Africa, of course, social media homed in on the ad and it went ballistically viral.
So, if the ARB had thought about the implication of their ban and just ignored that one complaint the ad campaign would have run for a few more weeks and given the declining number of viewers who actually watch commercial breaks on TV these days,
perhaps a few hundred thousand viewers would have seen it. Instead, in South Africa alone the ad was viewed by millions of people. Quite possibly hundreds times more than would have seen the ad on television.
So, instead of protecting the sensitivities of those few people who might have found the ad offensive, banning it simply compounded the very problem the ARB was trying to solve.