Advertising can be a very powerful thing. But with great power comes great responsibility. Creating an advert for your brand can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to promote your business. This marketing method has the possibility to reach multiple demographics at the same time and is a great way to create a value proposition for your products or services. The right message can make your company stand out against competitors. Get that message wrong, however, and it can be disastrous for not only sales but your company’s overall image – which can be very hard to recover from.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) recently introduced a new rule to prevent gender stereotyping in UK advertising. This week it was announced that TV adverts for a Volkswagen electric car and Philadelphia soft cheese are the first to be banned under the new framework. In the advert for Volkswagen’s electric eGolf vehicle, a series of scenes are shown 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. The advert states: “When we learn to adapt we can achieve anything.” It received a number of complaints saying the ad showed men taking part in various action-packed activities, while the female rock climber was depicted as passive because she was asleep and the woman with the pram was depicted in a stereotypical care-giving role. While Volkswagen insisted the ad was not sexist, the ASA concluded that the ad “presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm”.
In the ad for Philadelphia, the Mondelez-owned cream cheese brand, two new dads were shown eating lunch at a restaurant where food passed by 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 youngsters at risk as a result of their incompetence. The ASA banned the ad, saying it reinforced the idea that men were ineffective child carers.
The move has been met by a mix of reactions, with some advertisers claiming the ban sets a “concerning precedent” and that the ASA have overstepped the mark. Others, however have been quick to praise the ASA for taking necessary steps to combat “damaging clichés” which have become ingrained in society.
Regardless of opinion, the introduction of this new rule shows just how important it is for small businesses to build a positive, fully representative and inclusive brand image from the very start. It also demonstrates the importance of keeping check on your advertising strategy and making sure that your business adheres to changing regulations. For a start-up or entrepreneur, gaining a good reputation and positive PR from the get-go is essential for success. Your brand has a responsibility to adhere to standards from day one of operation, and not doing so could be catastrophic for your business. If you’d like to discuss development of an engaging advertising and marketing strategy that aligns with the ASA standards, contact Only Marketing today.