GM Thought Of The Week: Advertisers today are now forced to be progressive in traditional gender stereotypes with new CAP rules


GM Thought Of The Week: Advertisers today are now forced to be progressive in traditional gender stereotypes with new CAP rules

As of 14th June CAP have introduced new rules banning gender stereotyping in advertising across offline and online media channels.


Picture this: an advertisement that belittles a man for carrying out a stereotypically ‘female’ role or one emphasising the ‘contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring). In fact think back to Yorkies “NOT for girls” campaign or Huggies “dad test” ad for incompetent fathers – well all hail the progressiveness of CAP.


As of 14th June new rules on gender stereotyping have come into fruition and ads such as these would be banned today. Advertisers can no longer depict scenes that will “likely cause harm or serious or widespread offence” across offline and online media channels. This is a step towards the advertising industry doing more to reflect the society at large today. Abolishing old stereotypes and forcing content creators to be more innovative and considered in their creative depictions. The bans have been introduced as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found some portrays could play a part in “limiting people’s potential”.


This catalyst for change ties in with efforts made with the ever progressive Channel 4 who last year awarded £1m in free airtime to the Royal Air Force who won their competition in coming up with an idea to change the way women are portrayed in TV adverts. This reward was in line with the broadcaster’s commitment to help improve diversity in advertising each year until 2020.


Unsurprisingly there has been some negative opinions surrounding the new rules with individuals claiming society has become over sensitive or that the regulations feel like social engineering. I personally think this is a brilliant thing for the advertising industry to be setting the example for representing gender on a liberal and less stereotypical way. Warranted the public today are not shy with holding offensive advertising accountable. That being said the ASA’s review found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes could “restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes”.


Therefore, we shouldn’t wait for brands to be called out on their harmful gender stereotypes in line with the new ruling these ads should never be signed off. Brands such as Lynx and LadBible have already made steps towards breaking down ideas associated with toxic masculinity- hopefully with new rulings more brands will make the same steps forward.


In line with these new rules when it comes to planning our clients media campaigns we at Generation Media target children outside of gender stereotypes by breaking down audience segments and not falling foul of traditional ideologies that all girls and boys of a certain age are the same. Our sister company Giraffe Insights conducted research with DC Thomson named Youth Squads whereby they conducted research to better understand 7-14 year olds through segmentations into 11 ‘youth squads’. If this is an area you would like to know more about please get in contact.


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