ASA Will Introduce Guidelines for 2018 on Gender Stereotyping in Advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority has reviewed its approach to ads that feature stereotypical gender roles, following the publication of an investigation into gender stereotyping in advertising; the Depictions, Perceptions and Harm report. The report claims that gender stereotyping in advertising causes harm towards individuals, the economy and society.

In 2015, the infamous “Beach Body Ready” advert sparked concerns for the sexualisation and objectification of women in advertising, creating a conversation with ASA about how women are portrayed as desirable based on their bodies:

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ASA conducted a review following the complaints, but now the regulators are receiving complaints about ads that feature sexist stereotypes or mock people who don’t follow traditional roles. The new standards are only guidelines and are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes, e.g. there will not be a ban on ads showing a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks. However, subject to context and content considerations, the evidence suggests the following types of depictions are likely to be problematic:

  • An ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up
  • An ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa
  • An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks

“CAP will report publically on its progress before the end of 2017 and commits, as always, to delivering training and advice on the new standards in good time before they come into force in 2018.”
So, the ‘guidelines’ suggest that agencies, brands and companies should consider whether the stereotypes shown in their campaigns would “reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others see them”. Here is a list of what should be avoided:

  • Roles: Occupations or positions usually associated with a specific gender.
  • Characteristics: Attributes or behaviours associated with a specific gender.
  • Mocking people for not conforming to stereotype: Making fun of someone for behaving or looking in a non-stereotypical way.
  • Sexualisation: Portraying individuals in a highly sexualised manner.
  • Objectification: Depicting someone in a way that focuses on their body or body parts.
  • Body Image: Depicting an unhealthy body image.

Ads suggesting specific activities were suitable only for boys or girls are problematic and something ASA advises against. This is a topic I investigated at university for my gender project and for my dissertation exploring masculinity in modern advertising. It’s quite incredible (and worrying) to to dissect the vast range of gendered stereotypes advertising still depicts. There is an enormous list of adverts that have been criticised for depicting masculinity and femininity stereotypically, and here are just a few examples:

Aptamil depicting gendered roles for boys and girls

KFC suggesting anxiety/mental health isn’t manly (the ad has been taken down – sorry for the poor quality!)

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GAP portraying only boys as academics

Whilst a lot of people will claim that these guidelines are “over-sensitive” and “PC”,  the mocking of women and men and the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles are issues that have gained considerable public interest, with the facts to support the claims:

The move follows a major research project from JWT (New York) and The Geena Davies Institute in the Media which analysed 2,000 ads and found that women in advertising are “humourless, mute and in the kitchen’. According to the research, women are 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen.

JWT’s recent Women’s Index surveyed 9,000 women and found that 85% of them felt advertising and film needed to “catch up with the real world”. Additionally, since concerns were raised about gender portrayal in advertising, brands have taken a conscious decision to change the way men and women are depicted. Unilever recently teamed up with Mars, Facebook, and WPP to form the Unstereotype Alliance – a group dedicated to purging gender bias from ads – followed by an ‘Unstereotype’ pledge. Following this, they created Dove and Lynx ads which aimed to smash traditional gender roles, and consequently saw a 24% increase in consumer ratings.
Lynx ‘Find Your Magic’ is actually one of my favourite male brand ads:

In a time where we need feminism, diverse masculinity and gender diversity more than ever, I think this is a wonderful idea. The fact that they are guidelines rather than rules also helps show people that based off research, this sets a standard that we should all (not just creatives) adhere to when it comes to gender. Sort of like a moral code.
It’s hard to believe that 40+ years after the Sex Discrimination Act we are still seeing gender discrimination on our screens.
Often, I wonder if people are becoming desensitized to feminism because a large majority of people actually believe that women have equal rights just because we won the right to vote or can become a CEO. When it reality, we are far from gender equality – salaries aren’t the same, women and discriminated against and girls are still sexualised.

So if you think this is “over-sensitive”, you need to EDUCATE YO’SELF!

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Gatorade’s G Active: Water Made Active

Production agency Unit9 teamed up with TBWA/CHIAT/DAY and Gatorade to create an ad for their new low calorie electrolyte water, featuring a “true-to-life water athlete, animated it in mid air, and caught on camera.” 

Film director Cole Paviour was inspired by the work of Shiro Takatani to create this incredible million dollar experiment in the space of just 10 weeks:

Our custom-made “rain rig” dripped water in complete sequence and harmony. It recreated the figure of a real athlete in a liquid animation. Each unit contained 64 litres of water, with 8 units running at any one time. This meant we used half a tonne of water to bring the whole system together.

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This incredible creation was made by firstly capturing a human athlete running, jumping and kickboxing, then using that data the software told the the water rig when to turn the nozzles on and off, using over 2000 switches. The life-like human shape was brought to life by using flash-lighting to illuminate and ‘suspend’ the water droplets in mid air (above), so each frame had a microsecond accuracy. “As a result we transmitted an entire layer of data through the entire system in just a microsecond. We had to take each frame and process it in two ways. First of all to squash it, to compensate for gravitational acceleration, and second to slice it. We stored the data for each frame in a controller unit and triggered it using the camera.”

You can view BTS footage here:

I recommend reading more about the Director here, and you must watch the entire ad in all its HD glory. Essentially, it’s an incredible 3D liquid structure created through software that I can only imagine ever understanding. What a project!

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The Atlantic: Michael K. Williams Asks “Am I Typecast?”

Weiden + Kennedy (New York) have created an incredible short film for The Atlantic magazine featuring actor Michael K. Williams, who questions if he is being typecast in Hollywood. This is an incredibly poignant topic, and it was performed in this ad so poetically, discussing issues such as race relations and the US election.

Following The Atlantic’s tagline “Question Your Answers”, the short film conveys four different versions of Michael interrogating each other about whether he can escape being typecast. It’s a topic one would assume shouldn’t be an issue in 2017, but it is and always has been.

David Shane (Director) said:

This was such a nice opportunity for Michael to un-typecast himself because, in one piece, he gets to show his dry comedic timing, his raw menace and the depth of emotion he’s able to access. This is a deceptively simple looking piece – the degree of difficulty for him was so much greater than it looks. He had a lot of balls in the air.

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Lego: Build the Future

Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather (Bangkok) have created wonderful print ads for Lego’s new campaign ‘Build the Future’. No surprise here that they won a Silver Cannes Lions in ‘Print & Publishing’ and ‘Outdoor’ for the campaign. The art direction is absolutely spot on.

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The three careers were chosen as most desirable to children, then CGI studio Illusion (Bangkok) created the pieces using 3D illustration. Locations were strategically selected by Ogilvy for the campaign – the astronaut ad was placed at the planetarium or science museum, the rockstar ad was placed at music schools and the firefighter ad was placed in outdoor playgrounds.

Vice Chairman Nopadol Srikieatikajohn (Ogilvy Thailand) told AdFreak:

Lego’s ultimate purpose is to inspire and develop children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future. The brand believes that play is a key element in children’s growth and development. High-quality play enriches a child’s life and lays a strong foundation for adult life.

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Patrons of Pride: Mr President

Ad agency Mr President celebrated pride by creating illustrations to honor 4 iconic LGBT+ icons. Immortalised in the style of stained glass windows, Ellen DeGeneres, George Michael, Nicola Adams, and Laverne Cox were chosen as representatives of love, tolerance and inspiration.

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The agency explained the reason behind the project:

Here at Mr. President we celebrate diversity in all its forms. We don’t care about your gender or sexuality, we think you’re awesome. … Together we talked, laughed, debated and swapped stories before creating our Patrons of Pride campaign honouring four incredible people from the LGBT communities (one from each) – Ellen DeGeneres; George Michael; Nicola Adams and Laverne Cox.

 

It’s nice to see a campaign that has no link to a brand/client or marketing campaign – sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between genuine support for the LGBT+ community or just a marketing ploy.
The illustrations were displayed on windows overlooking Soho Square for Pride in London on Saturday 8th July:

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KFC: Lunchtime is coming | Game of Thrones

Disclaimer: I hate KFC. I f*cking hate everything it embodies. The fast food chain of death epitomises the animal flesh churching machine that is destroying this world, our bodies and our brains. I would burn every single chain of that money-making, Kentucky-fried-CRUELTY, diabetes and obesity promoting hell-hole if I could.

*and breathe*

Ad agency BBH have been enlisted by KFC to promote their new Ricebox (aka original chicken with rice in stead of fries). Actor Kristian Nairn recreated his character Hodor’s iconic ‘Hold the door’ scene from Game of Thrones.

I tried so hard to hate this. I tried to hate this wonderful ad with every fibre of my being… but it’s fantastic. For now, let’s just try to ignore who the client is and appreciate the creative genius of the concept and execution.
As a GoT fan, it’s even better! The lovable giant is back on our screens, providing a fantastically emotional performance, as usual. Trigger!!!

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First Instagram Ads: Yay or nay?

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy were commissioned by Instagram to create the new (and first ever) ads for Instagram. The Amsterdam offices created “Stories Are Everywhere,” for the Instagram Stories campaign – Instagram’s first global campaign – with the aim to promote features such as live video, brushes and stickers.

Reflecting how the platform behaves, the campaign’s executions are intended to inspire and excite the audience about the many possibilities available to express themselves. Film content presents small, unexpected moments that are instantly sharable and dynamic outdoor is contextual to the user’s environment. Within the Instagram app, function drivers educate users about the array of features. These executions playfully work together to remind users that Instagram Stories is the place to share life’s highlights and all the casual, everyday moments in between.

The campaign was shot on an iPhone, using just the Instagram app:

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However, the short films showing a juxtaposition of professionally shot footage and “homemade” style footage, does not work for me. They appeared at the Insta Stories Festival in Cologne, Germany last month:

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Praised for celebrating the diversity of expression, they aim to release 20 to 25 films by the end of the campaign, with over 270 billboards and guerrilla OOH, appearing on train stations in Philadelphia and Milan. The concept and the print ads work nicely, but for me the short films above looks like some weird montage. What do you think?

The film compilation is a nay from me! The rest of the campaign – meh. Disappointed as a huge Instagram user and fan.

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Pride in London: Love Happens Here | WCRS

WCRS were commissioned by Pride in London to create a campaign for Pride 2017, whilst also marking 50 years since the legalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The campaign has been huge, featuring TV ads for Pride for the first time ever. In fact, the campaign has been split into two narratives – love and hate – to portray both ends of the spectrum for the LGBT+ community.

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The first part of the multimedia campaign explored hate crime, emotionally and physically, including posters, Wi-Fi takeover, an event, London taxi skins and a film:

Additionally, an advert directed by Fred Scott will appear exclusively on Channel 4 during a special season of programming, followed by four films. The emotional advert (below) ‘The Apology’, features apologies from those who have lost relationships with love ones after judging and not accepting their sexuality:

 

Love
The second part of the multimedia campaign, released today, will include digital OOH sites portraying real life love stories from members of the LGBT+ community, illustrated by 30 different artists and illustrators. Illustrators have created the works for free, using the branded heart ‘pin’ icon, which will be available at the Tate as part of their Queer Britain season.
Here’s a few of my favourite illustrations:

Love stories are available on Pride’s interactive love map:

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The ‘Love’ aspect of the campaign aims to show that love happens in London despite the sad reality of the ‘Hate’ part. Ross Neil, ECD at WCRS said:

This is a campaign that started from a negative place of hatred and has blossomed into a full technicolour, full volume, inclusive expression of love. The greatness of the creative is matched only by the sheer scale of companies and individuals.

The campaign doesn’t stop there – Pride are encouraging Londoners to create their own pins and share their love stories on social media. It’s a fantastic campaign, and whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the original heart pin design itself, the multi faceted narrative this campaign has explored is wonderful.

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BBC Creative / Mother: Sorry Not Sorry for Being Me

Ad agency Mother (London) have teamed up with BBC Creative to create a branding campaign for BBC Three’s new project. Created by Mother Design, the campaign is for a new season of original programming about self-expression – something that sounds right up my street! This is an integrated campaign, which the audience can contribute towards. Engaging with young, diverse viewers with a message about identity and uniqueness, the aim is to promote BBC Three, and ignite a conversation about self-identity. The campaign also encourages viewers to create their own poster and share it on social media platforms.

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The campaign includes online media, DOOH, billboards, broadcasting through the BBC’s own channels, and social media:

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I’m definitely a fan of this campaign both in terms of concept and execution. The art direction is simple but bold. It’s also nice to recognise the faces of those in the campaign (above)!

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Skittles: Give the Rainbow | Disingenuous marketing tactic or LGBT+ ally?

Last year, ad agency adam&eveDDB (represent!) created a campaign for Pride by stripping off their iconic rainbow colour packaging. The “letter” part of the campaign reads:

So this is kind of awkward, but we’re just gonna go ahead and address the rainbow-colored elephant in the room. You have the rainbow … we have the rainbow … and usually that’s just hunky-dory.  But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention—yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree.

This year, Skittles have brought back the campaign, and it got me questioning the disingenuous nature around using LGBT+ issues for marketing purposes. I’ve blogged about this concern numerous times, and I think it’s important to do one’s research before making any assumptions about a brand’s sincerity. I’m sat at my desk in adam&eveDDB writing this, so putting my bias aside I automatically had negative connotations towards this campaign as many brands use social issues as a marketing ploy. My first thought was “what are they doing to actually support the LGBT community in a physical way? Are they donating? Are they providing support for LGBT youth? Are they supporting families who have lost victims of transphobic violence?”
On a totally creative, marketing, ideas-based note, the campaign idea itself is great – simple, but great. There’s been a weird online backlash claiming that the sweets are racist for promoting “white Pride”. I don’t understand that. The campaign has nothing to do with race.

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Skittles’ aim was to tell Pride that they didn’t want to steal their “rainbow thunder”, but some have said that using the the LGBT rainbow connotations as a campaign is doing exactly that. With these LGBT issues so close to my heart, it’s hard to see past the fact that Skittles (Wrigley UK) are just doing their job – creating a marketing strategy to boost sales and awareness of the brand.
However, the positive side of me wants to say that all publicity is good publicity – if a brand is openly supporting their LGBT employees and consumers, that can’t hurt! In reference to my earlier point regarding actions speaking louder than words, I discovered that for Pride 2017 the limited edition rainbow-less Skittles packets are in association with Tesco, who are donating 2p per packet to Tesco’s LGBT+ charity partners. Skittles aim is to show their support again for Pride, and to celebrate diversity and inclusion. I’m glad this statement is backed up by an actual charitable donation rather than jumping on the back of a very important celebration of human rights.

To conclude, Skittles absolutely are LGBT+ allies, and I’m so happy to see that Tesco are too!

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