In December 2018, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) banned the portrayal of harmful gender stereotypes in advertisements, giving advertisers six months to adjust to the new regulations.
That means that the ban went into effect in June of this year—have you noticed a change?
The ban comes on the heels of the Advertising Standard Agency’s (ASA) review of gender stereotyping in ads, which “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.”
Similar bans already exist in countries like France, Belgium, Norway and Greece, and while the ban doesn’t cover gender stereotypes altogether, advertisers must be careful not to perpetuate any harmful ideals.
It’s a big question. There’s no doubt that what we see every day influences our thoughts. Unrealistic beauty standards, overblown expectations of success, a preoccupation with how others see us—these are all heavily influenced by the media.
What we don’t know is if bans like this will be enough to make a change.
One thing is clear: the ASA isn’t messing around. They’ve already banned two ads for violating the guidelines—and more are bound to follow.
Noam Chomsky said, “He who controls the media controls the minds of the public.”
Let’s hope this ban is a positive step towards representing healthier and less damaging ideals.