Why Sexist Ads Will Be Gone By #IWD2019

It's hard not to turn on a tv, radio or read a paper or browse the web without realising today is International Women's Day.

There are a lot of references to inspiring women. Campaign and Marketing Week are worth checking out here if you want to take a look at some of the females who have inspired British marketing writers, as well as the campaigns they believe are tackling gender inequality. For my two pennies' worth, if you want a video to celebrate IWD2018, check out the Greenpeace team working in the Arctic who, contrary to what was once said about female researchers, finds women can work fine in the Arctic, even without a hairdresser on board. 

One of the more important videos released to mark today comes from the Advertising Standards Authority. It's not going to go viral, it's just a piece to camera, but it reminds the public that the British ad regulator is set to ban sexist advertising. A consultation is due to open this Spring, according to the ASA's latest announcement, and a new rule is set to be in place before the end of the year. 

The aforementioned blog, to mark IWD2018, sets out some interesting points about the new rule because it can already see what the likely complaints from advertisers or commentators will be, just as some complained that the #MeToo movement has made it impossible for men to know how to act in the workplace. The Mash Report dealt with this with a tonne of adult humour (featuring NSFW swearing), pointing out that we all already know what's acceptable and what isn't.

Anyway, the proposed ASA rules are pretty obvious and should hopefully put an end to the tedious ads that see a woman held solely responsible for clearing up a mess and doing household chores. That is particularly the case for any chore that needs to be completed by the female in the partnership because the hapless man in the couple has bodged another mundane task that only the wife can do.

I have a feeling the timeline might slip on the new rules. A reply to a question I posed on the ASA's Facebook page today said the consultation would happen "later this year" and so it would be hard to imagine the new rule being discussed, approved and implemented this year as well -- unless they really get their skates on.

Nevertheless, it's work already underway, thanks to Unilever being the central body around which the Unstereotype Alliance is forming. It's committed to exactly what it says on the tin -- namely banishing the type of adverts ASA has indicated will be unacceptable.

Furthermore, the really interesting part of what Keith Weed had to say the other day about Unilever no longer working with platforms that do not tackle division was the ways in which this can be perpetrated. One type of content he specifically mentioned was sexism, alongside extremism and fake news. 

So there you have it. By the time of IWD2019, there will be new rules in place in the UK that will largely back up what an alliance of huge advertisers has already promised to do -- take the sexist stereotypes out of advertising. It only got referenced in short video by the ASA on Facebook today -- but for me, it's the big story of IWD2018.

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