Calm down dear, it’s only a commercial…

I wonder if the ASA actually understands advertising.

It has announced today that it plans to crack down on advertising that “perpetuates gender stereotyping”.

Guy Parker, the chief executive of the ASA, said: “Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people.

Well, yes. Gender stereotyping is certainly a Bad Thing. But in the world of advertising, and I’m referring specifically to TV advertising in the UK, there’s an unwritten, unstated understanding between the advertiser and the viewer that ads don’t reflect real life.

Stereotypes are used all the time. Some of them relate to gender, others to age, family relationships, occupation… we all know that the OXO family isn’t real, that nobody actually knocks on your door and challenges you to try Daz, and that your new next-door neighbour, who happens to be single and attractive, won’t come round to borrow a jar of coffee.

Life in TV ads is fantasy, but it follows the unwritten code. We know why the Dad is useless at housework or looking after the kids, we know why Mum has to sort out the mess he made. We know it’s not real life. It’s to sell us washing powder.

Please, ASA, don’t force TV advertisers to only portray bland, boring real life.

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