A VOLKSWAGEN advert is among the first to be banned in the UK for being sexist – despite receiving just THREE complaints.
The car ad, showing men living adventurous lifestyles as astronauts and sportsmen while a woman sits next to a pram, has been banned for depicting "harmful" gender stereotypes.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) barred it after agreeing with complaints it stereotyped women as caregivers and men as adventurous.
But the decision has been slammed as "political correctness gone mad".
Ian Greer wrote on Twitter: "3 (yes 3) complaints, out of millions watching; from the recreationally offended. Is this where we are now? I give up."
Another Twitter user said: "3 people complained about the Volkswagen advert…. THREE! If I get 3 of my mates to complain that advert is now too gender neutral….. do we get it switched back?"
And Nic added: "Political correctness going f***ing mad, when will this end?!"
An ad for Philadelphia cheese was also pulled by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) following 128 complaints about its sexist undertones.
The problematic clip showed a sleeping woman and a man in a tent on a cliff, two male astronauts floating in a spacecraft and a male para-athlete doing the long jump – right before cutting to the final scene of a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram.
As well as Volkswagen's e-Golf advert, Philadelphia cheese also had their recent advert banned after receiving 128 complaints about its sexist undertones.
The banned Philadelphia cheese ad shows two new fathers leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt after being distracted by food.
Over 100 viewers complained to the ASA for the harmful stereotype of men being incapable of caring for kids.
The new rules, which were enforced in June this year, point out that adverts can't include gender stereotypes that are "likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence."
Under the new ruling, adverts aren't allowed to depict men or women failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender – which the Philadelphia cheese advert does.
Both companies were told they can't broadcast the adverts again in their current forms.
Campaigners have long complained that advertising reinforces sexist views – which hinders people's potential down the line.
We found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential
Ella Smillie, a spokesperson from the Fawcett Society which campaigns for women's rights, said: "It's about time advertisers woke up and stopped reinforcing lazy, outmoded gender stereotypes.
"Gender stereotypes harm everyone and we know that children internalise them in a way that limits their aspirations and potential in life."
Volkswagen and Mondelez, which owns Philadelphia cheese, both defended their advertisements.
Mondelez UK argued that the ad showed a positive image of men with a responsible and active role in childcare in modern society.
It added that it chose to feature a pair of fathers to avoid a stereotype of new mothers being responsible for children.
However, the ASA said the ad was intended to be light-hearted and comical but portrayed the men as "somewhat hapless and inattentive".
Volkswagen UK said its ad did not suggest that care-giving was exclusively associated with women, and that no direct contrasts of male and female stereotypical roles featured in the clip.
But the ASA said: "By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical caregiving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male and female roles."
WHAT IS CLASSED AS A SEXIST AD?
According to the ASA, adverts that are likely to be problematic under the new rule include:
Ads that depict a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender.
Where a person with a physique that doesn't match a certain stereotype associated with their gender is unsuccessful because of that physique.
Ads that seek to emphasise the contrast between a boy's stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) and a girl's stereotypical personality (e.g. caring.)
Ads that belittle men for carrying out stereotypical "female" roles.
Where ads aimed at new mums emphasise looking "attractive" or keeping a home clean over other factors like their emotional wellbeing.
They added that this gave the impression that the activities "were exclusively associated with one gender."
Fewer than one in 10 adverts feature an "authoritative" female characters – even though audience testing proved that strong women have more sway over consumers, research by data firm Kantar found.
When the new advertising rule came into place in June, Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: "Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us.
"Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.
"It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals, and we’re pleased with how the industry has already begun to respond."
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