Estate agents Marsh & Parsons has sparked a sexism row over its latest London Underground billboard ads, thanks to an advert featuring an older man embraced by a younger woman along with the copy line, ‘A charming period property with a modern extension’.
Despite best intentions, Marsh & Parsons confirmed it will remove the ad after the billboard received complaints online and to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad is one in a series that describes people as though they are properties but many on social media believed the agency went too far with the provocative billboard.
How much more enlightened @marshandparsons would've seemed if they'd gender reversed this advert pic.twitter.com/Jj6gGrvrdE — Pimlicat (@pimlicat) March 24, 2017
However, similar to Protein World's online criticism two years ago, the promotion has served a purpose by getting people talking about the brand. With some commuters revealing they hadn't even heard of the estate agents before the outcry.
"Marsh & Parsons has a recent history of tongue-in-cheek advertisements that compare people to property and reflect that the range of people we work with are as diverse as the types of properties we sell and let," explained David Brown, chief executive of Marsh & Parsons
"We have always tried to get our message across with a gentle sense of humour and up until now, our work has been extremely well-received."
Brown added that the campaign featured a variety of men and women and that they did not seek out to alienate anybody.
The controversy comes as the ASA continue an unrelated investigation into gender stereotyping by brands, which could soon change the way the watchdog regulates campaigns which appear to objectify or sexualise women.