British Officials Ban Two Commercials For Gender Stereotyping

I have previously criticized the new law, enforced by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), that bans gender stereotypes in advertising. It is the ultimate expression of the “nanny state” phenomenon in the United Kingdom where speech is increasingly regulated and sanctioned by the state along a best values agenda. Commercials for Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Volkswagen were banned. To understand how these laws are really speech controls, one needs only to watch the commercials and the vacuous response of one of the chief regulators in a recent interview.

The Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad features two men with babies is a humorous commercial where the men are so lost in enjoying the cheese that they leave their babies on a conveyor belt. Such humor is lost on the ASA. Of course, if it were two women taking care of babies, the problem would be stereotyping women as responsible for childcare. Take the Volkswagen commercial. You have to look closely because the problem is that the astronauts and hikers were men but there was a brief shot of a woman with a baby. Conclusion? Obviously Volkswagen thinks women cannot be astronauts or hikers and only mother.

So 128 people complained, according to the ASA. The commercial played to hundreds of millions but 128 people complained and the ASA went into vapors. Part of the scourge of speech controls is that it creates an insatiable appetite for silencing others. In the United Kingdom, people are now empowered to bring civil and criminal actions against those with opposing views or, with the ASA, perceived values.

ASA is a perfectly Orwellian institution and issued the following statement without even a hint of self-awareness of the sheer absurdity of its mission:

By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.

“Investigation manager” Jesse Tye has been giving interviews explaining how the ban may have avoided egregious gender-based injury: “The types of harms we might be talking about are, for example, affecting people’s aspirations. You know it might affect the career choices girls make or boys make.”

So that is the basis for banning a commercial? Because some people might be affected by not seeing at least one more female figure in a commercial. If these folks are that fragile, a Volkswagen commercial will make no difference at all.

Listen to this interview:

Note that she does nothing but repeat the mission statement of the ASA and does not respond to the obvious point that replacing the men in the Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial with women would easily qualify as stereotyping in the other direction.

The ASA has given its critics precisely the arbitrarily and capricious action that most of us anticipated when they were tasked with censoring commercial speech.

25 thoughts on “British Officials Ban Two Commercials For Gender Stereotyping”

  1. Restrictions on speech are a recurrent theme in Britain, and they’re coming back in style here.. Even Shakespeare had to be edited by Dr Bowdler and the Bulfinches to suit Victorian standards. Even what’s allowable and what’s not in everyday speech for Britons is puzzling enough to Americans that there are actual British-American dictionaries to help Americans not scandalize their Britsh associates (and vice versa).

  2. When does the lunacy end? You can be cited for using a plastic straw, but you can crap and urinate on the streets and go and exchange your used needles for clean ones. Let me understand this, how did Trump get elected again.

  3. Policing marketing for SJW contrived crises on gender stereotyping is yet another erosion of free speech in Western Europe.

    Statistically, men and women gravitate towards different behaviors, although individuals may fall outside of the norms.

    Therefore, if a makeup company focuses its lipstick ads primarily towards males, and football equipment manufacturers focus on women, neither are going to do very well in sales. They will sell to the outliers, but that is a boutique niche.

    Honestly, why are feminists so threatened by the biological and behavioral differences between the sexes? How can you believe in evolution but believe it does not apply to you? And how has the world gone so mad as to lose all common sense on this issue?

    Let consumers be free to react to marketing campaigns, without the interference from the ASA outside of basic decency standards.

  4. In the West, people only rarely have their liberty taken away. Typically, they gratefully hand it over.

    1. P Trump seemed an idiot a few weeks back when he’s saying things like he’s ready to give up the 2nd Amd For Nothing in exchange.

      Then I’m pretty sure he saw the army that brought him to where he is start to head on without him.

      Millions of people me are the reason there was no Prez McCain or Romney.

      I hope P Trump can keep away from those NY/DC idiots, his daughters Commie/Fascist friends, (Like Soros/KochMcConnell agents)

      I’m not sure who it was, Steve Bannon, That Gorka dude, many others in the WH Staff, we’re not sure who, but we know somebody was blocking our request & other info to Trump.

  5. Britain has had a ‘Conservative’ government in place since 2010. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

  6. British Officials Ban Two Commercials For Gender Stereotyping

    Idiots rule!

    Yet another chapter in the decline and fall of Western civilization.

    Its all over but the crying.

    1. it’s not all over but folks like to declare defeat so they don’t have to fight.

      for those who live on, life is struggle, it always was, always will be. don’t be soft!

  7. Saul Alinsky said “control the language and control the masses” and Dems have been trying to do that for years. This is the Left’s control mechanism and used extensively in the USA too. Democrats have perfected it as a smear campaign IE: Can’t say Make America Great Again or Democrats might beat you up or make 30 second video lies about you. So glad that conservatives are now fighting 40 years of this fascist Democrat mentality.

  8. People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to people…dictatorship does.

  9. Per Article 1, Section 8, Congress has the power to regulate only trade, exchange or “…commerce among the several States…” to preclude bias and favor by one state over another. If the British had the good sense to implement the principles of the U.S. Constitution, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) would be unconstitutional and would not exist. Regulation would occur privately and where appropriate by the related industries and adjudication of criminal and civil matters would be conducted by courts. The right of people to petition the government is not the provision of authority to impose a dictatorship. People retain the protections and immunities of Article 1 and the right to their private property “…in exclusion of every other individual.” The people were given maximal freedom by the U.S. Constitution as the government was severely limited and restricted.

    Understanding that regulation, other than that of commerce among the several states, is unconstitutional and that the possession and disposition of private property is solely the concern of its owners not Congress, the entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional. including affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, HAMP, HARP, Dept.’s of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

  10. “Note that she . . . does not respond to the obvious point that replacing the men in the Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial with women would easily qualify as stereotyping in the other direction.”

    That’s nonsense. She answers the point directly @4:52 and @5:29. The “problem” the ASA is addressing isn’t stereotypes, it’s specifically negative or “harmful” stereotypes. To oppose the ASA, one must argue that advertisements that invoke negative stereotypes aren’t really harmful, or that freedom of speech is worth the harm. The latter is what I would have expected from Turley.

    1. To oppose the ASA, one must argue that advertisements that invoke negative stereotypes aren’t really harmful, or that freedom of speech is worth the harm.

      No, to oppose the ASA, one must not be a dependent twit.

      The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Imanuel Kant

      1. In my opinion, it will be more effective to argue in terms of freedom of speech than the dependency of twits. Unless perhaps you’re addressing adolescents.

    2. The image of a mother caring for a child is not harmful to anyone. To claim that traditional roles are harmful is insulting to mothers.

      Portraying new dads making mistakes is harmful, is insulting and detrimental to struggling new dads everywhere.

      The UK must believe its people to be quite fragile to require such care of their psyche.

  11. The public has to stand up and do away with the morons that have nothing better to do all day than to judge what is politically correct in their feeble brains. Think of all the problems in the world that need attention while idiots like the woman from ASA spends her time looking for politically incorrect crap. Who gives those people power? We do and it’s time we throw their PC asses out.

  12. Just having the male commentator aggressively explaining the decision would lead one to conclude that females are passive, incapable of decision making . . .

  13. This is atrocious. The regulators have decided that their job is now to ensure we “think correctly”. If they have any role it is surely simply to police dishonesty and obscenity, everything else is up to us and we don’t require or want their help.

  14. To paraphrase Shaw: Those who can do; those who cannot, regulate”.

    The old robber barons in Germany understood the process well; if you have no marketable skills, then set up a road block where everybody has to pass and then charge tolls. An unnecessary “service” to fund those unqualified to actually produce.

    Are we seeing the early days of “Atlas Shrugged”?

  15. I have to complain. Only women have the “vapors.” Are you contending that all of the people who complained are female? Shirley, at least one beta male complained.

    1. Paul – Nathan Lane did an excellent job portraying the vapors in The Bird Cage. “Shriek! I pierced the toast!”

      1. Karen S – Nathan was identifying as a woman went he said that. 🙂

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