Adverts banned for stereotyping women as unadventurous and men as bad at looking after children

Dating service
An advert for Philadelphia cheese showed a man being 'somewhat hapless and inattentive' and was banned
An advert for Philadelphia cheese showed a man being 'somewhat hapless and inattentive' and was banned Credit: ASA/PA

Television adverts which portrayed women as unadventurous and fathers as irresponsible parents have become the first to be banned under new gender stereotyping rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated Volkswagen UK and Mondelez, owners of Philadelphia soft cheese, following complaints from viewers.

Some 128 people objected about an ad for Philadelphia soft cheese that featured two new fathers leaving a baby on a restaurant buffet conveyor belt while they were distracted by the food.

Complainants said the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children and would place them at risk as a result of their incompetence.

A Volkwagen advert showed a man and a woman asleep in a tent next to a cliff face Credit: ASA/PA

While three viewers complained about an ad for the Volkswagen eGolf car. 

The advert showed a sleeping woman and a man in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts floating in a space ship and a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump before a final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram.

Critics argued that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role.

While men were portrayed as athletes, scientists and astronauts, a woman was depicted next to a pram in the Volkswagen advert Credit: ASA/PA

Both companies denied they had breached gender stereotyping but the complaints were upheld by the ASA.

Ad clearance agency Clearcast said the dads' agreement to "let's not tell mum" in the Philadelphia advert was a "commonplace exclamation signifying embarrassment" that could equally be applied in role reversal, and represented a "careless, momentary and harmless distraction".

New advertising rules that came into effect on June 14, declare ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence".

The ASA did not uphold five complaints about a television ad for Nestle's Buxton bottled water featuring a female ballet dancer, a male drummer and a male rower.