..



.

Business News

why Australian advertising is stuck in a sexist past

  • Written by Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University

The banning of a Sportsbet advertisement featuring a “foolish” blonde beauty pageant contestant is a rare win against sexism and stereotypes in advertising.

Ad Standards[1], which adjudicates complaints about adverts, has ruled the “foolproof[2]” advert contravenes the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code of Ethics[3] by depicting material in a way that discriminates against or vilifies a section of the community on account of gender.

image Australia’s Ad Standards body has upheld complaints about Sportsbet’s ‘foolproof’ advertisement. Source

It’s not something Ad Standards does often. In fact, in 2018 it dismissed 83% of all complaints[4].

Our research suggests the advertising industry’s standards for judging sexism are, like the world depicted in the television series Mad Men, stuck in the past.

We showed advertisements to ordinary men and women who agreed the adverts traded in outdated and undesirable sexism and gender stereotypes. Yet many of those adverts were cleared by Ad Standards as conforming to the industry’s ethical code.

One of the biggest problems is the code only considers ads in isolation. It doesn’t take into account their cumulative effect.

Confidence trick

In our research, a partnership between RMIT University and Women’s Health Victoria, we explored community responses[5] to gender portrayals in advertising by holding ten focus groups with 46 women and 28 men in metropolitan and regional Victoria. As part of the process we asked participants to discuss advertisements that had attracted complaints or media attention.

An example is the 2016 “Fit In” advert from General Pants Co, showing young women in states of undress alongside fully clothed young men.

image Australia’s advertising industry code permits sexualised poses if women are shown to be ‘confident and in control’.

General Pants Co adverts regularly attract complaints about using sexually objectifying imagery. In 2014, for example, it ran advertising showing women in swimwear with the tagline “wet dreams[6]”.

Such imagery, as one woman in our study put it, suggests “women aren’t good enough on their own, like they need to show some sexualisation”.

Yet Ad Standards dismissed complaints against the “Fit In” ad because the industry code does not consider sexualised poses degrading if women are shown to be “confident and in control[7]” – and in this case the women were “standing in a confident manner[8]”.

Read more: Honey Birdette and the changing attitudes to sex in advertising[9]

This is despite more than 130 studies over the past 20 years[10] indicating sexualised or idealised images of women in advertisements damage women’s self-esteem and satisfaction with their bodies, and that this can occur[11] even when women are shown as sexually powerful and in control.

Further, experimental studies suggest[12] exposure to sexualised images of women leads both women and men to have “a diminished view of women’s competence, morality and humanity”.

Trading in stereotypes

Our focus group participants noted the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes in advertising. Women are shown as homemakers, mothers or sex objects. Men are portrayed in more action-oriented roles and associated with leadership and power.

A perfect example is this ad for Sofitel Brisbane showing a couple eating breakfast in bed. He is reading the Australian Financial Review. She is reading a Chanel coffee table book.

image Sofitel Brisbane made a meal of its marketing by misreading community expectations with this advert.

There was a swift backlash against this ad when it was published in October 2018. As a result Sofitel Brisbane apologised and withdrew it.

But had it gone to Ad Standards adjudication, more than likely complaints about it would have been dismissed.

This is because the industry code[13] accepts using gender stereotypes to “simplify communications” so long as they “are not always associated with that gender, the only options available to that gender, or never carried out or displayed by another gender”.

Thus Ad Standards last month dismissed a complaint about an Aussie Home Loans[14] advert portraying a frivolous, gossipy and ill-informed hairdresser.

The reason[15] was because “the woman in the advertisement wasn’t seen to represent all adult women, rather it was an exaggeration of a cliché of hairdressers being full of advice”.

Cumulative effects

In contrast to the Australian code, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority[16] is now obliged to consider the cumulative health impacts of portrayals. This recognises the pervasiveness of these types of portrayals perpetuate problematic gender norms.

Read more: UK crackdown on gender stereotypes in advertising shows up Australia's low bar[17]

As one woman in our study stated: “I think one ad itself cannot be harmful, but when you see thousands of these ads, especially for young girls and boys […] they see what the standards are for when they grow up.”

This means the British regulator is more likely to ban ads perceived to objectify women, such as this example from British air-conditioning company Not Just Cooling[18].

image Britain’s advertising regulator decided this advert breached its rules on social responsibility and harm and offence.

Our research highlights that people want more responsible advertising. The industry has acknowledged a need to review its code of ethics[19]. That’s a start. But something else to learn from Britain to address sexist advertising[20] is the value of a co-regulatory system that doesn’t leave the industry to set its own rules.

In the 1960s advertisers were blissfully unaware of the impacts of casual sexism and stereotypes. We now have ample evidence it’s not just harmless fun. It’s time for the industry to show it’s not living in the past.

References

  1. ^ Ad Standards (adstandards.com.au)
  2. ^ foolproof (www.smartcompany.com.au)
  3. ^ Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code of Ethics (aana.com.au)
  4. ^ 83% of all complaints (adstandards.com.au)
  5. ^ explored community responses (whv.org.au)
  6. ^ wet dreams (adstandards.com.au)
  7. ^ confident and in control (adstandards.com.au)
  8. ^ standing in a confident manner (adstandards.com.au)
  9. ^ Honey Birdette and the changing attitudes to sex in advertising (theconversation.com)
  10. ^ 130 studies over the past 20 years (www.tandfonline.com)
  11. ^ can occur (journals.sagepub.com)
  12. ^ experimental studies suggest (www.tandfonline.com)
  13. ^ industry code (aana.com.au)
  14. ^ Aussie Home Loans (www.youtube.com)
  15. ^ reason (adstandards.com.au)
  16. ^ Advertising Standards Authority (www.asa.org.uk)
  17. ^ UK crackdown on gender stereotypes in advertising shows up Australia's low bar (theconversation.com)
  18. ^ Not Just Cooling (www.asa.org.uk)
  19. ^ review its code of ethics (aana.com.au)
  20. ^ address sexist advertising (whv.org.au)

Authors: Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University

Read more http://theconversation.com/sexualised-and-stereotyped-why-australian-advertising-is-stuck-in-a-sexist-past-125704

Digital Agency

Business Daily Media Business Development

Accor and Visa form global partnership

Accor, a world-leading hospitality group, and Visa (V: NYSE), the global leader in digital payments, yesterday (the 18th of February) announced a global partnership to bring new payment expe...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Cruise Guru Celebrates CLIA Award Win with Offer for Australian Travellers

Leading Australian cruise agency, Cruise Guru, has been named ‘2019 Online Cruise Agency of the Year’ at the 19th Annual Cruise Industry Awards hosted by Cruise Lines International Associati...

Rhea D'souza - avatar Rhea D'souza

Exciting Things About Sydney

Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities that boasts a population of over 4 million people. It is a city that is famous for its picturesque views, multicultural people, superb weather, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Accor announces new partnership with Grab to help members Live Limitless

Accor has announced a new strategic partnership between its new lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless and South East Asia’s leading super app, Grab. The deal brings toget...

Accor Pacific - avatar Accor Pacific

Upgrading to Deep Pocket Sheets

So, you have this amazingly comfortable bed that has a built-in topper and you are struggling to find the right bedding. You need to look for a sheet called deep pocket sheets or mega fi...

News Company - avatar News Company

Food you need to try in Beijing

Beijing is a beautiful and interesting destination for any kind of traveler. However, foodies will find a new heaven and will be able to try out tasty, flavorful and sometimes very special...

News Company - avatar News Company

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull