The Volkswagen & Philadeplhia Adverts Banned Over "Gender Stereotypes"

Brunilde Fioravanti
Agosto 14, 2019

The ad for Volkswagen's electric eGolf vehicle showed a series of scenes including a man and a woman in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts, a male para-athlete and a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram.

"It's about time advertisers woke up and stopped reinforcing lazy outmoded gender stereotypes", said Ella Smillie, a spokeswoman for the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women's rights, "Gender stereotypes harm everyone and we know that children internalise them in a way that limits their aspirations and potential in life".

TV adverts by Mondelez and Volkswagen are the first to be banned under new gender stereotyping rules.

The new rules in the United Kingdom ban gender stereotypes "which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense".

Ad clearance agency Clearcast said the dads' agreement to "let's not tell mum" in the Philadelphia advert was a "commonplace exclamation signifying embarrassment" that could equally be applied in role reversal, and represented a "careless, momentary and harmless distraction".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received some 128 complaints about a Mondelez ad for Philadelphia soft cheese which featured two dads leaving a baby on a restaurant buffet conveyor belt while they were distracted by the food.

Complainants said the ad showed men engaged in adventurous activities, that unlike her male counterpart, the female rock climber was "passive" because she was asleep, and that the woman with the pram was depicted in a stereotypical care-giving role. Over 125 viewers complained.

"This first batch of rulings shows where we're drawing the line", said ASA spokesman Craig Jones in a statement.

The ASA banned the ad, saying it reinforced the idea that men were ineffective childcarers. "The ASA's interpretation of the ads against the new rule and guidance goes further than we anticipated and has implications for a wide range of ads".

Volkswagen dismissed the judgment, arguing their advert showed men and women "taking part in challenging situations", whilst the parent company of Philadelphia, Mondelez UK, said they were "extremely disappointed with the ruling".

"We take our advertising responsibility very seriously and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all United Kingdom regulation".

A public furor over a 2015 poster on the walls of London's subway system, showing a woman in a bikini with the words "Are you beach body ready?", prompted the regulator to look into all gender portrayals in advertising.

The other, VW ad, showed men being adventurous as a woman sat by a pram.

The ASA said it concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.

CNN Business has contacted Volkswagen (VLKAF) for comment.

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