Advertising Standards bans UK PC retailer advert for perpetuating ‘harmful gender stereotypes’

An advert for a UK PC retailer has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for perpetuating “harmful gender stereotypes”.

As spotted by Eurogamer, the ASA upheld eight complaints that the advertisement by PC Specialist, which ran in June 2019, depicted men in roles that were stereotypically male, “implying that it was only men who were interested in technology and computers”. 

After an investigation the ASA upheld the complaint, stating the BCAP Code insists “advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”. 

In its written response, PC Specialist said 87.5 per cent of its customer base were males, aged between 15 and 35, and “their product, branding and service had been developed for and aimed at that target audience and the characters in the ad therefore represented a cross-section of the PC Specialist core customer base”.

It further added that it “did not believe they represented negative stereotypes and were playing the roles of entrepreneurs, forward-thinkers and hard workers” and insisted the ad “did not imply that women were not interested in computers”. 

“[T]he ad repeatedly cut to images of only men, who were both prominent and central to the ad’s message of opportunity and excellence across multiple desirable career paths,” the ASA added. “We therefore considered that the ad implied that excellence in those roles and fields would be seen as the preserve of men. Because of that, we considered that the ad went further than just featuring a cross-section of the advertiser’s core customer base and implied that only men could excel in those roles.

“Ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely associated with one gender; were the only options available to one gender; or were never carried out or displayed by another gender,” the ruling stated.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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