back to article UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

Ads depicting manchildren incapable of carrying out basic household tasks, and women in the role of Stepford Wives clearing up their mess, are to be banned in a crackdown by the Advertising Standards Authority. It follows a review conducted by the watchdog following the public's reaction to the "beach body ready" advertising …

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  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    This is a good thing

    Communication is extremely important, and it cannot be forgotten that many people make life decisions based on what they saw on TV.

    TV has abandoned it's educational role (which is why we have public safety announcements like no alcohol for pregnant woman now), so it will have to be constrained to respect certain things.

    As a result, I am entirely for this restriction because I am a bit tired of seeing the same old ads with women doing the same old stuff and men always having the same old role. I look forward to seeing what intelligent ad makers are going to do with this. I also look forward to seeing the stupid ad makers die - but I'm not putting much faith in that.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: This is a bad thing

      As an entirely competent male-around-the-house, I have no problem with the depiction of all or any male stereotypes, from He-man through to the wimpy Mr Muscle, or bumbling male ineptists.

      Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV.

      All part of the shitty culture shift of people seeking to take offence, or wanting to take offence on behalf of others. Fuck 'em all, I say.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: This is a bad thing

        what he said above

        fucking whingeing idiots with too much time on their hands. ooh, i was offended as i felt stereotyped by a fucking advert.

        go ahead, be offended. nothing happens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHMoDt3nSHs

        go out and do something less boring instead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FQktsKvXcg

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is a bad thing

          It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is a bad thing

            "It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes."

            And how much harm is being done to society by excessive nannying? People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves, as there's always someone else to do it for them.

            1. Captain Hogwash

              Re: People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves

              Ah, you've spotted the agenda.

            2. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: This is a bad thing

              And how much harm is being done to society by excessive nannying? People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves, as there's always someone else to do it for them.

              Advertising exists for a reason -- if it didn't affect people's views, companies wouldn't spend so much money on it. Any reinforcement of a stereotype has an effect, especially when children are trickle-fed it over decades. Do you think it's alright for so many girls and young women to dismiss the idea of ever having a career as an engineer because that's not what women do?

              Some people think they are not affected by advertising. Seventy-five per cent of people also think they are better than average drivers, but we still have seatbelt laws. Are you old enough to remember when people complained about first being forced to wear a seatbelt? "Bloody nanny state!"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: This is a bad thing @Rich11

                " Are you old enough to remember when people complained about first being forced to wear a seatbelt? "Bloody nanny state!"

                Yes, they were demonstrably proven to save lives.

                The only thing this shit saves is some liberal organisations pay packet / carte blanche cheque.

              2. DropBear Silver badge

                Re: This is a bad thing

                Anyone who thinks they're immune to the influence of something as pervasive and ongoing as advertising is a bloody damned fool. No, no amount of ads can _make_ you buy a coke if you decide you don't want to buy one consciously for some reason - then again, would you really want to return to the age of Eastern folks drawn as giant-glass-wearing large-toothed idiots in cartoons...? Oh, and it's only anecdotal, but I remember reading about quite a few criminals _around the world_ complaining that upon being arrested they weren't read their Miranda rights - yeah, we're so clearly not letting what we see on telly influence how we think...

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: This is a bad thing

            Yes, the "reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes" does harm society.

            But then, so does censorship.

            I'd like to know what rigorous study or analysis has been done to determine that the harm from one outweighs the other. I'd like to, but I suspect none has - because we're talking about articles of faith, not science.

            1. no-one in particular

              @vetia Re: This is a bad thing

              > Yes, the "reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes" does harm society.

              > But then, so does censorship.

              and as soon as we have an article about censorship that viewpoint will be taken into account; meanwhile, back at the discussion of adverts...

              1. psychonaut

                Re: @vetia This is a bad thing

                if you are worried about your kids, make sure that you, not the TV , are their main source of information regarding what they can do with their life. make sure you tell them every day if necessary, that they can be whatever they want to be. encourage and educate them.

                in the meantime, leave the incompetent blundering dads in adverts for fucks sake. theres more important stuff to worry about.

                on another note on product names, theres a product called "start ya bastard" in Australia to spray into your air intake when your engine doesn't cooperate....thats the best one i ever found...

              2. veti Silver badge

                Re: @vetia This is a bad thing

                @"no-one in particular":

                How is this not censorship?

                Serious question. Just because it's being applied to ads, rather than editorial, doesn't change the nature of it.

          3. nijam Silver badge

            Re: This is a bad thing

            > It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes.

            It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by idiotic "regulators."

            FTFY

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is a bad thing

            A little slow aren't you....or just young.

            There's a lot of Data already out there you ignoring to say something like that.

        2. ttGuy

          Re: This is a bad thing

          Precisely.

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: This is a bad thing

        Nanny state strikes again. Stereotypes exist for a reason - they make it easy to understand/relate to what we're viewing - and if the ASA gets its way on this then soon the only TV we're allowed to watch will feature an entire cast of 54 year-old black one-legged chutney-worshipping lesbians(1) because anything else would be an offensive stereotype.

        Bollocks to that.

        (1) https://m.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/11/bofh_2005_episode_5/

        1. psychonaut

          Re: This is a bad thing

          "It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes."

          so how much harm is done then? do you know anyone who has been directly effected by being shown a negative sterotype?

          how can we tell, objectively, what is or is not a stereotype?

          how can we legislate as to what constitutes a valid stereotype, and an invalid one?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is a bad thing

            "so how much harm is done then?"

            If you take stereotypes from other times and places, like black people being subhuman or women being too simple to understand politics, it's easier to have enough perspective to see that they can cause immense harm.

            How much harm any other specific stereotype does, I'll leave for you to judge. I'm just glad you've acknowledged that such a judgement needs to be made, rather than assuming the whole thing is about someone merely being offended.

            1. psychonaut

              Re: This is a bad thing

              you make valid points, and society has moved on, which is great.

              but do you really think that the examples you raise are anywhere near in severity to what was in the article?

              how is it possible to objectively legislate for this? i would say its impossible. all we will end up with is a bunch of nonsense, as per making sure that men arent seen to be useless at household chores in adverts. its a massive waste of time, and, to me , its offensive.....but its ok, i'll get over it ;)

          2. AdamWill

            Optional

            It doesn't exactly work like that, though, does it? Negative stereotypes don't necessarily "directly" affect people in the sense I think you mean. They have a more gradual, long-term, compounded effect. And it's often not an entirely obvious effect to observe at the level of a single person, because often the effect is to influence a person's perception of what roles (in terms of work, home life or anything else) are reasonable choices for them, and it's not easy to perceive when someone just doesn't even consider doing something because they've learned over time that it's not a thing that People Like Them do. After all, *most* people don't become astronauts or firefighters or Olympic athletes, so it's hard to look at *one* person who didn't do that and say "hmm, maybe media stereotyping played a role in this". You have to have a more sophisticated analysis.

            One case I've found really interesting lately, which maybe isn't one you'd expect, is the show American Ninja Warrior in the U.S. It's an extremely popular sports-reality show (involving extremely fit people doing extremely hard obstacle courses), and to its credit it's made a conscious effort to promote female competitors. It's really fascinating to see the number of kids who see a woman doing well on a show like that and are inspired to take up the activity for themselves. I've seen more than one girl say something along the lines of they just didn't know it was *okay* for girls to be strong, muscular and powerful before seeing ANW or something like it: they just didn't see it as a choice. And indeed if you think about it, someone like Meaghan Martin (look her up, she's amazing) isn't a common sight in the media; if you think about the stereotype even of a 'fit' woman, it doesn't look like her. There's an overlap with tennis and all the shade that gets subtly thrown at players like Serena Williams who are unapologetically muscular and powerful; there's a strong current of belief that even elite female athletes must be somehow 'feminine', i.e. slender and pretty.

            To put it simply: of *course* what you see around you, in the real world and in the media, affects your idea of what you yourself are capable of and 'allowed' to do, especially at the young ages where people often form their goals. It would be surprising if it were otherwise, wouldn't it? There are also of course obvious potential downsides to allowing what is effectively censorship, but I think it's nuts to deny the idea that widespread stereotyping can have this kind of effect.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: This is a bad thing

            "so how much harm is done then? do you know anyone who has been directly effected by being shown a negative sterotype?"

            Not so very long ago it was socially acceptable to smoke pretty much wherever you wanted, even in an enclosed aircraft. It was gradually made more and more unacceptable until eventually the die-hards had to be legislated against. Now smokers get tutted at out in the open air in some case.

            Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but your stereotypical working class man of the 1960's would rarely have been seen without a cigarette hanging off his lip. That's changed now and mainly by the negative messages and stereotypes used in the anti-smoking campaigns. Advertising works. Just not always they way it's intended, but repeat a message often enough and for long enough and it will take hold in significant sections of the population.

            1. Obitim

              Re: This is a bad thing

              Ant the fact smoking can cause cancer...as can second hand smoke?

          4. Rol Silver badge

            Re: This is a bad thing

            If you have been keeping up with events, you might be aware that a significant proportion of the general public absorb information, whether it be factually correct or not and then make important decisions.

            If ASA had any proper power, the whole referendum vote would be rerun, and this time without the lies.

            Yes we live in a society where the mass of idiots that suck up disinformation have reached such a critical point, they have the power to transform everything to shit.

            We need a Darwinian task force to cull the numbers to an acceptable level, perhaps back to the tried and trusted standard of one idiot per village.

            1. robin thakur 1

              Re: This is a bad thing

              This falls down the trap of saying that "'stupid' people shouldn't vote because they don't vote they way we want them to/the way they are meant to". It's patronising and false. Same with Trump and Brexit. Perhaps they have different priorities to you, or perhaps they see the truth and it is you that is taken in by lies, it's certainly not black and white. It's not very smart for example, if you know that the vast majority of the public is more stupid than the thickest person you've ever personally encountered, not to tailor an election/referendum campaign towards them, because they have the numbers advantage.

          5. Rattus Rattus
            Coat

            Re: "how can we tell, objectively, what is or is not a stereotype?"

            Easy. A stereotype is Sony, Sharp, Panasonic, etc.

          6. Martin Taylor 1

            Re: This is a bad thing

            How much harm is done? I dunno... My ex-wife got some of her more ludicrous negative opinions about me from somewhere. It may have been ultra-feminist claptrap, it may have had something to do with these stereotypes, I never really got to the bottom of it. Suffice it to say I now run the house, as my second wife is no longer able to.

            It's rarely possible to point to a single cause for these things, but I'm sure background influences play their part.

          7. Richocet

            Re: This is a bad thing

            There's not enough space in this comment field to go deep into the psychology of this...

            But everyone is influenced subconsciously by these messages. It doesn't matter if you are smart enough to identify them and object to them, be offended, agree with them, or not care.

            Whether or not anyone is offended is irrelevant. There is a 'propaganda' effect of messages that influences those who see them. Even if that was not the intent.

            I encourage you to look into this more. It's fascinating.

            I type this as I wait for my next research test subject to arrive, to observe how they go about figuring out the UI of a new website.

        2. strum Silver badge

          Re: This is a bad thing

          >Nanny state strikes again.

          The Advertising Standards Authority has nothing to do with the state. It is a private organisation, controlled and paid for by the advertising industry - who want their reputation to be a little less shabby than it usually is..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is a bad thing

        This is unfair. Come back when the said cultural outlook prevents you from landing jobs and earning equally.

      4. Haku

        Re: This is a bad thing

        If someone will sponsor me, I will take offence at those who take offence on behalf of others.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is a bad thing

        Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV.
        But what of those who are not sufficiently adult? I don't want my daughter to believe that her role (or more accurately, her mother's role) is to clean up after everyone's mess, I don't want my son to believe that he can get out of chores by being incompetent. That is what these commercials have been trying to ingrain into the kids.

        I can help around the house, and insist that they do as well, but they resist and need the insistence, because "that's Mommy's job". I try to teach them better, but it is made more difficult by these ads teaching the exact opposite.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is a bad thing/This is a good thing

          In general I dislike the use of stereotypes, apart from where they're being used ironically to undermine the laziness of thinking that underlies them. From that point of view I welcome this.

          On the other hand it makes me cringe somewhat that the advertising standards agency feels they have a remit to step in like this. Sure stereotypes can be harmful, but a blanket ban? Really? The worry is that this type of creeping censorship may start going even further towards controlling the message in advertising - aand s the ASA is effectively an arm of the state I don't like where that ship is headed.

          As someone already pointed out, if it wasn't for advertisers being a bunch of unprincipled arsetrumpets this would never have even been considered. Regardless of whether this is a good or a bad move I blame the advertising industry for it being seen to be necessary at all.

      6. Amorous Cowherder
        Facepalm

        Re: This is a bad thing

        "Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV."

        Do you have kids? If so then you know exactly how bloody stupid and easily influenced they are by everything they see around them. That's one thing I've learned bringing up a daughter over the last 20 years, they take every single thing they learn from you, they rebel against their mothers and they look to you, their father, as the first and most important bloke in the life. Then when they move on to moon over some spotty, floppy-haired bell-end in their class they at least know what a sensible bloke is actually like as they've grown up with one all their lives. They know that people, men and women, deserve equal respect.

        I want my daughter to grow up and know that she is respected, my wife and I respect her, she can respect both men and women. Don't get me wrong I like to see some complete div making a mess in a kitchen 'cos he's a bloke, it's funny but kids are daft and I don't want my kids to see one message telling them all blokes are as thick as stupid kids and then seeing me, a sensible and I would say typical bloke who does his fair share of housework and sharing the chores, and she's gets conflicting messages.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is a bad thing

          That's one thing I've learned bringing up a daughter over the last 20 years, they take every single thing they learn from you, they rebel against their mothers and they look to you, their father, as the first and most important bloke in the life.

          Sorry, that's a negative stereotype and shall not be permitted to be advertised. Instead, though shalt portray the female offspring as idolizing the female paternal figure and being openly antagonistic to the male paternal figure, because we don't wish to reinforce the stereotype that a female may be influenced by a male, respect a male figure, or even worse actually marry a man in her future life.

          By order of the counsel, your comment may not be re-aired in its current form.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is a bad thing

        Well said, screw the offended!

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: This is a good thing

      >Communication is extremely important...

      There are two parts to this. I remember a while back coming across the problem of household product packaging. Because it is mainly women who do most of the shopping and home care (cooking,cleaning, washing) products have (increasingly) been packaged to appeal to them. A business that had identified it's opportuntiy in the market, was launching a laundry product suite (washing powder, fabric conditioner etc.) that was targeted at the increasing numbers of men - this involved both packaging changes and in the case of fabric conditioner - fragrance changes...

      1. Nolveys Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: This is a good thing

        A business (launched) a laundry product - that was targeted at - men

        I hate buying stuff like shampoo. I have to sift through a huge shelf with twenty separate "Lavavaline" products with labels like "Gentle Restorative Full Body Formula For Split Ends" and "conditioner" written in tiny letters off to the side somewhere.

        Personally I'd love to see a product line with labels consisting of big, black, block text on while labeled as so:

        Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

        Fucking Dish Soap - Guess What, It's Dish Soap

        Fucking Toothpaste - It's Toothpaste, That's All There Is To Say

        Fucking Bar Soap - Bar Soap, buy it and fuck off.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: This is a good thing

          @ Nolveys

          You might actually be on for a wonderful and marketable idea.

        2. Ben Boyle

          Re: This is a good thing

          https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/494595922/public-goods-revolutionizing-household-products

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is a good thing

          Toothpaste is a load of bollocks. Why can't they make a single toothpaste that does -everything-? Whitens teeth, kills plaque, freshens breath, strengthens enamel, removes stains, EVERYTHING. Why are there about 20 different varieties per manufacturer that only seem to handle varying subsets of the above?

          (the cynical side of me is assuming the more varieties they can spaff out, the larger their share of supermarket aisle space they can demand)

        4. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: This is a good thing

          Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

          Hmm, 'fucking' might be interpreted as a verb rather than an adjective though.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: This is a good thing

            Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields.

            1. jrd

              Re: This is a good thing

              "Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields."

              I understand the theory but this just isn't supported by evidence. The Scandinavian countries have been implementing equality legislation based on this theory for decades and the result is they have fewer women entering STEM careers than countries with far less equality. It seems that the more "equal" peoples' opportunities are, the more they gravitate towards the fields they are interested in - so women go into nursing and teaching and men go into engineering and construction. There is plenty of academic literature on the subject.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This is a good thing

              "Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example)"

              Have you seen Lego these days? Just a load of assemble bits to make a specific item.

              Lego, back when I was a lad, was just a collection of blocks and you used your own imagination to make *anything*.

              1. ravenviz Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: This is a good thing

                Lego, back when I was a lad, was just a collection of blocks and you used your own imagination to make *anything*

                Yeah, we used to make cars and crash them together to see whose broke first.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is a good thing

            Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

            Hmm, 'fucking' might be interpreted as a verb rather than an adjective though.

            It would give a subset of society a new excuse though, as opposed to "I slipped in the bath and it somehow ended up my bum, doctor"

        5. John G Imrie Silver badge

          Re: This is a good thing

          So you want Ronseal to launch a range of products:

          This is Ronseal Shampoo, it cleans your heir.

          This is Ronseal Dish Soap, it's soap that goes in a dish.

          This is Ronseal Toothpaste, it cleans your teath

          This is Ronseal Bar Soap, can you guess what it does yet.

          1. mistersaxon

            Re: This is a good thing

            I don't think you know what Dish Soap is do you? It's for washing dishes, (aka Washing Up Liquid in the UK). Soap that goes in a dish is a soap bar or soap tablet.

            There's some kind of irony here but I'm not sure where it is, exactly. Possibly in the protest against a stereotype by a living example of it?

        6. Infernoz Bronze badge
          Meh

          Re: This is a good thing

          I agree that that a lot of cleaning product labelling is annoying and deceptive, but because iffy/bad stuff has made it's way into _most_ products, both plain and fancy, so you should get educated and check the contents before you buy them e.g. they can contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (fouls up hormones, including T), irritants, poisons (Aluminium, Toluene, Fluoride), etc.! Some brands of products can be a lot better quality with little or no harmful stuff e.g. Ecover and Bull Dog.

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