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Harmful gender stereotypes in ads to be banned

FOLLOWING A public consultation, CAP has announced that ads will no longer be able to depict gender stereotypes.

The new rule in the Advertising Codes, which will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media (including online and social media), states:

[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

This change follows a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the ASA. The review found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes.

Following the review, CAP consulted publicly on specific proposals to ban harmful gender stereotypes in ads, underpinned by the evidence collected by the ASA. The proposed restrictions were supported by a majority of respondents.

The evidence does not show that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic and the new rule does not seek to ban gender stereotypes outright, but to identify specific harms that should be prevented.

CAP has published guidance to help advertisers stick to the new rule by providing examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in ads

Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, said:

“Harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements. Nearly all advertisers know this, but for those that don’t, our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society.”

CAP will carry out a 12 month review after the new rule comes into force to make sure it’s meeting its objective to prevent harmful gender stereotypes.

The new rule will come into force on 14 June 2019.

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