Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 17 December 2020
Law stated as at: 21 January 2021
In 2018, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) announced a new rule in the UK Advertising Codes:
“[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.”
This prohibited the depiction of harmful gender stereotypes in advertising following the publication of an ASA report, Depictions, Perceptions and Harm, a pre-consultation with industry practitioners and a public consultation.
The ASA has now completed its 12-month review, which considered whether the rule and guidance met its policy objectives in preventing harmful gender stereotypes and whether additional monitoring is required.
Why this matters:
The ASA has concluded that the rule and guidance should indeed be retained as both were meeting their policy objectives.
Prior to the introduction of the rule, the ASA found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes could restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. Consequentially, some advertisements were then acting as reinforcement, playing into unequal gender outcomes.
See our initial commentary here.
This review has allowed the ASA to clarify that the rule was also intended to apply in cases concerning sexualisation, objectification and body image in which the consideration of harmful and/or offensive gender stereotypes come into play. They have also updated the Advertising Guidance with explanatory text, expanding on the application of the rule in areas with established positions while flagging that this area will be continued monitored and updated for untested areas.