Volkswagen and Philadelphia cream cheese ads banned over gender stereotypes

An advertisement juxtaposing male astronauts with a woman sitting by a stroller, and another depicting two hapless dads, are the first casualties of a Britis...

Posted: Aug 14, 2019 8:05 AM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 3:15 PM

An advertisement juxtaposing male astronauts with a woman sitting by a stroller, and another depicting two hapless dads, are the first casualties of a British ban on gender stereotypes in advertising.

The ads, for Volkswagen and Philadelphia cream cheese, were investigated by the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after viewers complained they perpetuated gender stereotypes.

New rules that came into force in June prohibit depictions of gender that 'are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offense.'

The Volkswagen commercial shows a number of primarily male people taking part in adventurous activities — two male astronauts in space, and a male athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump — before cutting to a mother sitting on a park bench next to a stroller. It prompted three complaints from viewers, and the ASA found it showed a woman 'engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role.'

'We acknowledged that becoming a parent was a life-changing experience that required significant adaptation, but taking care of children was a role that was stereotypically associated with women,' the body added in its ruling.

A second commercial for Philadelphia cream cheese showed two dads looking after their children at a restaurant with a conveyer belt.

The men become so distracted by the food that they lose sight of their babies, who end up circling the restaurant on the belt. 'Let's not tell mom,' says one, after rescuing his child. Over 125 viewers complained.

'We acknowledged the action was intended to be light-hearted and comical and there was no sense that the children were in danger,' the ASA said in its decision.

'We considered, however, that the men were portrayed as somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively,' they added. 'We did not consider that the use of humour in the ad mitigated the effect of the harmful stereotype.'

Neither ad can appear in its current form following the ruling.

A spokesperson for Mondelez International, which produces Philadelphia, said the company was 'extremely disappointed' with the decision.

'We take our advertising responsibility very seriously and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all UK regulation.'

Problematic ads can 'contribute to inequality'

The new rules follow a review by the ASA, published in 2017, which found that harmful stereotypes reinforced by advertising 'can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults.'

A public furor over a 2015 poster on the walls of London's subway system, showing a woman in a bikini with the words 'Are you beach body ready?,' prompted the regulator to look into all gender portrayals in advertising.

The ad — for a weight-loss product — was not initially banned by the ASA, as it did not explicitly break any rules, but the regulator eventually took action due to its health claims.

'Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us,' Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said in a statement in June.

The ASA said commercials will still be allowed to show 'glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles.'

Ads that show men or women carrying out tasks with which their genders are sometimes associated, such as women shopping, will also be permitted.

CNN Business has contacted Volkswagen for comment.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 87°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 85°
Rensselaer
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 85°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Logansport
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events