ASA examines level of gender stereotyping in UK ads

Watchdog has launched a project to find out if a change in regulation is required

UK advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched a project to examine whether it is “getting it right” when it comes to gender stereotyping in ads.

The regulator is calling on stakeholders and members of the public to submit evidence and research they have on the issue in order to shape the project by emailing gender@asa.org.uk.

Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours. That’s why we’ve already been taking action to ban ads that we believe reinforce gender stereotypes and that are likely to cause serious and widespread offence, or harm. And that’s also why we want to engage further with a wide range of stakeholders on the effect of gender stereotyping on society, including through our ‘call for evidence’.”

However, that does not mean the ASA is coming down hard on all brands; last September a MAC ad featuring pop singer Miley Cyrus was criticised by members of the public who claimed it was “overtly sexual” and “offensive”. The ad featured Cyrus wearing a low-cut corset bodysuit lying on her back with her legs apart and reflected in a mirror. The ASA ruled the ad was not in breach of advertising regulations.

Meanwhile, in April last year, an ad starring model Cara Delevingne was the subject of another ASA investigation. The Tom Ford fragrance ad featured Delevingne lying naked on her front with the side of her breast and buttocks visible beneath water. The ASA did not uphold the complaints.

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