The ASA have announced that they are aiming to reduce stereotyping related to gender in all kinds of advertising - including TV and poster ads as well as websites and online advertising - including products pages.
Whilst the ASA aren't expecting advertisers to depict men washing up and women cutting the grass in every single advert, they are expecting advertisers to give a more realistic, modern and balanced view. After all in today's world there aren't many jobs that only women or only men do - especially around the house, particularly as broken families are not uncommon.
In a statement, the ASA commented, “It wouldn’t be appropriate or realistic to take the course towards the complete ignoring of the possible situations such as women cleaning, but in the future, we will try to elaborate potentially problematic treatments. Just as an example – an advertisement that depicts women as the sole person responsible for cleaning up the mess the entire family created would be unacceptable”.
For your Business
Whilst this action is rather ambiguous in giving specific guideline of what is and what isn't acceptable, the message in the `depictions, Perceptions and Harm report` to all advertisers ( and businesses) is that you need to really think about how you are advertising your products. If your product pages and advertising does not include people - just a photo of your product, then you really don't have anything to worry about. The moment that you start to introduce videos or lifestyle photos, you should be thinking carefully about how you are depicting gender differences.
The ASA concluded that majority of their advertisements don’t contain potentially harmful gender stereotyping, nor that they cause serious widespread offence. Still, some ads do contain such elements and ASA is committed to changing these ads and coming up with the new ones that would be in line with the generally accepted guidelines.
The findings of the report include:
? Support for a crackdown on adverts which objectify or overly sexualise women and girls, as well as adverts with females being overly thin.
? Cracking down on stereotypical gender roles which may be harmful, including advertisements which mock those who do not conform to traditional gender roles.
? There will be no ban on depicting males or females in `traditional` gender roles, within reason.
? That doesn't mean that they will not crackdown on, for example, an advertisement that depicts that a toy is only suitable for girls - or vice versa.
These actions should be seen as a positive force in the balancing of gender stereotypes in advertising and for most people won't make much of a difference in the way that they show their products. It is of course, something that should be taken into account when you are thinking about how to market your products.