Ban on Harmful Gender Stereotypes in UK Ads


UK Committee of Advertising Practice


Sexist advertisements perpetuate harmful stereotypes and reinforce gender norms, contributing to a culture that limits opportunities and reinforces inequality. By promoting unrealistic expectations and objectifying individuals based on gender, sexist ads not only shape societal perceptions but also hinder progress toward true gender equality by fostering an environment that tolerates and normalizes discriminatory attitudes and behaviours. In the UK a review done by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) discovered evidence suggesting that sexist advertisement has the potential to limit the choices, ambitions, and opportunities of individuals, while certain advertisements contribute to the reinforcement of stereotypes, thereby playing a role in generating unequal gender outcomes.


In 2019, the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) made a new rule, based on the review by the ASA, banning harmful gender stereotypes in ads. The rule states: “[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence” and applies to both broadcast and non-broadcast media, including online and social media. The ASA will now deal with any complaints it receives on a case-by-case basis and will assess each ad by looking at the content and context to determine if the new rule has been broken.


Banning sexist advertisements can have a significant positive impact by challenging and changing harmful gender stereotypes. Such a prohibition promotes a more inclusive and respectful portrayal of individuals in the media, fostering a cultural shift towards gender equality. It also helps create an environment where diverse perspectives are acknowledged and celebrated, contributing to a more equitable and just society.

Advertising Standards Authority - Article

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