Consumers will no longer stand for outdated gender stereotypes, so brands must move towards more progressive advertising in 2018.
The need to eradicate outdated gender stereotypes in advertising is a trend that has been a long time coming, but 2018, bolstered by the #MeToo movement, is sure to see this accelerate as more brands get behind the force.
Research conducted by Unilever over the past three years found that 50% of ads showed a negative or “unprogressive” stereotype of women, and just 3% showed clever or funny women.
Brands are feeling the heat on gender stereotyping in advertising, as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) revealed plans to introduce new ad rules in 2018, after admitting “tougher” guidelines are needed to protect children, young people and adults from “restrictive” gender norms.
the brands leading the way
Household brands have already begun tackling this issue and are leading the way, with John Lewis launching a range of unisex children’s clothes to reduce gender stereotypes; CoverGirl introducing its first CoverBoy; and brands Zara, Selfridges and Guess creating entire collections of products meant to appeal to any consumer, regardless of gender.
Unilever has joined forces with major brands and organisation such as Facebook, Google, Alibaba and Mars with the aim to end gender stereotyping.
While speaking at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Ella Smillie, from the Committees of Advertising Practise (CAP) said:
“Some gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves, how others see them, and potentially restricting the life decisions they take. The introduction of a new advertising rule from 2018 will help advertisers to know where to draw the line on the use of acceptable and unacceptable stereotypes.”
changing ad rules
Guy Parker, Chief Executive at the ASA said:
“While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, we welcome CAP’s decision to introduce a new rule on harmful gender stereotypes in ads.”
While the changes in ad rules will not ban all forms of stereotypes, the new standards will mean that certain depictions may prove more problematic. These include women being seen to have sole responsibility for cleaning the family home and men only doing DIY, as they fail at parental tasks.
New guidelines are set to be announced in Spring 2018, and will help advertisers to know where to draw the line on the use of acceptable and unacceptable stereotype content.