From June 2019 onwards, ads depicting men or women in stereotypical roles will be banned by the ASA. This rule change is intended to mitigate real-world harm that comes about as a result of gender inequality, such as the gender pay gap or male mental health issues[1].

With the new rules, Yorkie’s “Not For Girls” ad campaign or Asda’s Christmas ad showing a Mum rushing around whilst Dad puts his feet up, would not be allowed. The wider context of the rule will also ban ads aimed at new mothers that suggest looking attractive is necessary for their emotional wellbeing.

These new rules are in line with the direction many advertisers are already going down. Many of the old tropes don’t cut it with consumers anymore. Since the “Beach Body Ready” outcry of 2015, the social media impact of having a controversial ad has been clear.

Though there is a question over whether ads could become too politically correct and whether potentially humorous scenarios would now be banned for fear of causing offence. For example the MoneySuperMarket ad, showing a group of men dancing in hot pants and heels, was not upheld by the ASA[2] as they “…thought most viewers would recognise the ad’s intended take on humour.” However with this new ruling coming into place, brands might not be as brave, in fear of their ads being removed or ridiculed in an environment of heightened sensitivity.

Going in the right direction is the current campaign from Mothercare[3], celebrating the beauty of real mothers. In the #BodyProudMums campaign, they have photographed 10 mothers in the weeks or months after birth. With no photoshopping, these images show all the lumps, bumps and scars that pregnancy and childbirth can cause and are intended to instil confidence and pride in new mums, whilst removing the pressure to “snap-back” to a previous size or shape.

With International Women’s Day theme this year being “Balance for Better” [4], the day will be focussed on striving for a gender-balanced world. We expect to see many brands embracing these themes on 8th March and beyond.