Yoghurt licking women, mysterious girls & bumbling dads: The most hated advertising stereotypes of all time

Sexy yoghurt ads make the cut

Earlier this month we asked our Twitter audience which advertising stereotypes they are so sick of seeing, they would ban them from ever entering a pitch again. You answered our rallying cry: here are your most hated suggestions…

The mysterious girl in the perfume advert

She’s always there – dancing behind silk curtains, gliding solo through parties, giving you the eye before running off into the night never to be seen again. She doesn't even bother telling us what her perfume smells like.

This kind of manic pixie girl business always takes place in a context of what Edward Parkinson refers to as “perfume ads [that] are always very artistic/abstract but make absolutely no sense”.

It was voted as Twitter’s number one most hated ad stereotype with 48 per cent of the vote.

Middle class people in nice kitchens frowning at debt One stereotype suggestion from Maxus’ Alex Steer that drew much love is ‘people in kitchens frowning at debt’, which he kindly illustrated with lots of people in kitchens frowning at debt.

If they’d all just get their furrowed heads out of their hands and purchase an internet loan with a APR of 5,000 per cent, they’d realise true happiness.

The teenager rollerblading on her period

An oldie but a goodie: advertisers still can’t admit that periods a) do involve blood, b) affect women over the age of 21 and c) aren’t really that big of a deal (the exception to the rule being AMV BBDO’s recent work for Bodyform).

But time and time again the trope of an acne-free young girl "just, y’know, living life to the full, man!" is rolled out onto our screens, as if being able to function as a regular human being one week every month is something really, really aspirational.

The hapless, bumbling dad

Dads, eh? They're just so hapless when it comes to life skills! They can’t cook, can’t clean and CERTAINLY can’t use a washing machine … thank God 'er indoors is there to clean up the kitchen when they forget to put the lid on the blender! Doh! *look to camera, roll eyes and shrug.*

The woman having the best time of her life licking a yoghurt spoon

I hate to break it to the dairy industry, but yoghurt isn’t sexy. Yet once upon a time someone in advertising decided it could be, so now all women scooping it up in ads derive some sort of sensual pleasure from its low-fat creaminess.

It doesn’t happen with cheese, it doesn’t happen with milk, so why oh why does it happen with yoghurt?

The car that only drives on an open road through dramatic scenery

Pedants would say you cannot stereotype an inanimate object, however the advertising industry has found a way to make nearly every car look identical through the same old beautiful creative. Fine, you may have driven that one time through a deserted, winding mountainous road in New Zealand in Gap Year 2002, but did you do it in a shiny, spotless sports car? No.

Conversely, have you ever driven your sports car faster than 40mph through Hammersmith in rush hour? I rest my case.

Old people on a beach

According to advertising, once you’ve retired you’ll be plagued with a multitude of problems, including (but not limited to): incontinence, impotence, grey hair, false-looking false teeth and leaving your family destitute when you finally die.

But good news! You’ll also be able to run around a beach with your dog, smiling at your beloved as the sun goes down on the world you’ve probably destroyed with a lifetime of reckless carbon emissions.

Nice one.

The Drum's editor-in-chief Gordon Young will be leading a discussion on stereotyping at the Advertising Association's Last One Standing event on 26 September. Hosted at Google's offices in London, the panel will feature representative from the likes of Direct Line Group and OMD.

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