With new rules banning harmful depictions gender stereotypes coming into force today, IPA President Nigel Vaz has welcomed the public commitment to taking the issue seriously but has warned that we must ensure that it does not lead to unintended, damaging consequences.
Says Nigel Vaz, IPA President and CEO of Publicis Sapient: “The introduction of the rule marks an important moment for the industry as it demonstrates a public commitment to taking seriously the issue of gender portrayals in advertising.
“Responsibility is one of the key strands of my Reimagine agenda as IPA President; this includes a responsibility to ensure that advertising is representative of the world we live in and builds trust between brands and consumers. This, of course, includes not perpetuating negative or harmful stereotypes. However, even with an issue of this sensitivity, it is important to find a balance between the rights of people not to be subjected to offensive stereotypical depictions and the rights of businesses to advertise their products and services.
“While the IPA welcomes the new rule, it is important to note that the ASA report “Depictions, Perceptions and Harm”, which led to the creation of the new rule, makes clear that “the overwhelming majority of ads do not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence” and that the problem is not endemic in our industry. We do, of course, support the new rule because it clarifies that harmful stereotypical depictions in ads are not acceptable, but we should take care to ensure that it does not lead to unintended, damaging consequences, such as the stifling of creativity, the encouragement of detrimental characteristics or behaviour, or even the creation of new stereotypes – something that we made clear in our response to the consultation on the new rule.”