UK Consigns Gender Stereotypes To History

So long, married housewife who is overly concerned by how her sofa smells and goodbye to the dad who doesn't know how the washing works. It would be nice to say it has been great, but we would all know that was a lie.

As of today, new rules are banning advertisers from relying on the lazy stereotypes that have kept many brands in the dark ages for so long. Just look at all those awful daytime ads for finance and household products. The man is usually there to listen to the advice of the personal finance expert while the wife puts the kettle on until they swap places for a furniture polish that needs a woman's touch, just as long as the husband can lift his feet off the coffee table long enough for the sparkle and great new oak to be renewed. 

Interestingly, Kantar has done research into these works of art that sometimes make it into the evening television commercial slots, and it's clear that the regulators are actually doing brands a favour. 

Its researchers found that two in three women skip ads that portray women in a poor, stereotypical way and given that more that four in five reckon this is a common problem with advertising, that's quite a big deal.

No wonder, then, that there is a 4% and 6% lift in response to tv ads that are gender balanced or female skewed.

The researchers further advise that brands throw away the stereotypes and try to not only portray modern life, in which half of your consumers are women, but also inspire women with aspirational roles that go way beyond that housewife who is concerned that her kids won't like her if she doesn't use the right brand of toilet tissue or fish fingers.

So, from tomorrow any ad that perpetuates a harmful stereotype can be reported to the ASA. I'm a little sceptical about how useful the regulator is because decisions take months to be announced and by the time they are, the campaign is no longer running.

However, it is a statement of intent from ASA that stereotypes are to be banned, and presumably no brand wants to be the first reported and to have a campaign banned for sticking to dumb dad who doesn't know where the vacuum is, or mum who obsesses about her toilet smelling of anything but a toilet. 

I think we will agree this can only be a good thing.

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