[guest post by Dana]
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ads for Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen, following complaints from the public that they perpetuated harmful stereotypes.
The new rules, introduced at the beginning of the year, ban the depiction of men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities to help stop “limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take”.
In the ad for Philadelphia, the Mondelez-owned cream cheese brand, two new dads were shown eating lunch at a restaurant where food circulated on a conveyor belt. While chatting they accidentally find their babies are whisked away on it. “Let’s not tell mum,” one of them says.
Complainants said the tongue-in-cheek ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype suggesting men were incapable of caring for children and would put them at risk as a result of their incompetence.
Mondelez told the ASA it was stuck in a no-win situation, having specifically chosen two dads to avoid depicting the stereotypical image of showing two new mums handling all the childcare responsibilities.
The ASA banned the ad, saying it reinforced the idea that men were ineffective childcarers.
The ad for Volkswagen’s electric eGolf vehicle showed a series of scenes including a man and a woman in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts, a male para-athlete and a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram. Text stated: “When we learn to adapt we can achieve anything.”
Complainants said the ad showed men engaged in adventurous activities, that unlike her male counterpart, the female rock climber was “passive” because she was asleep, and that the woman with the pram was depicted in a stereotypical care-giving role.
Volkswagen said its ad was not sexist and that caring for a newborn was a life-changing experience about adaptation, regardless of the gender of the parent depicted.
The ASA, however, “concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm”.
Here are the harmful ads:
With the first banned ad, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have confirmed that they have no discernible sense of humor. Does any rational adult really believe that the commercial insults men? Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m inclined to give *adults* the benefit of the doubt in being able to discern reality from fiction, and deciding for themselves whether the two charming dads being distracted by food as their babies ride on the conveyor belt are really representative of every dad. And if dad’s are a bit more unfocused, is it not o.k. to tease them about it?
With the second ad, the ASA has demonstrated that they really have not adapated to anything other than being narrow-minded prigs. The watchdog group offensively devalue motherhood with their decision to ban the second ad as they assume that the new mom sitting on the park bench with her baby *isn’t* already involved in an even more serious activity, where, for the next 18 years the demand for adaptation will be life-changing and relentless.
The ASA takes on an impossible task because with every “success” will come “failure.” Most people won’t be happy with the outcome because across the spectrum, someone, somewhere will feel that the ban of X excludes their tribe as it elevates another tribe. By narrowing the standard of what is allowed, there comes an automatic increase in the number of those excluded from approval. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so why not let individuals make the decision for themselves? Why?
Because that’s not in the best interest of the State, and that is what this is really all about: pushing an agenda that a few are charged with deeming what is best for the many. This is why they have stopped letting reasonable ads play, and letting people decide whether they want to purchase the product as a result of what they’ve seen. This is why they can no longer trust adults to make their own decisions. Moreover, perception is everything: Rather than seeing a woman relegated to sleeping while her mate gets up early to go out adventuring, perhaps she’s just damn tired from all the climbing and hiking she did the day before and the extra rest is a well-deserved, longed-for treat. I’ve been her. I know it to be true. Instead of the man getting up to go have fun without her because he’s that selfish, perhaps in his thoughtfulness toward her, he doesn’t bother to wake her, knowing she wants to sleep in, thus he moves carefully and quietly so that his woman can sleep a little longer with only the quiet stillness of early morning as her company.
Advertising expert Geraint Lloyd-Taylor put it bluntly:
It is concerning to see the ASA take on the role of the morality police. It has let its zeal to enforce the new rules override its common sense in this first batch of rulings.
And it’s ironic that the ASA doesn’t even see that it is they who are now limiting people’s choices because of their narrow-minded scope of acceptability:
The ASA’s Ella Smillie, who helped to devise the new rules, said: “We don’t see ourselves as social engineers, we’re reflecting the changing standards in society. Changing ad regulation isn’t going to end gender inequality but we know advertising can reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, which can limit people’s choices or potential in life.”
Funny, if anything, this is the very definition of social engineering. It reminds me of Harrison Bergeron and what happened when the State sought to create an across-the-board equal utopia and ended up dooming people to a nightmarish dystopia of suppression and oppression:
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)