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UK government pulls ‘sexist’ pandemic ad


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

January 28, 2021 | 3 min read

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the most talked about creative from the brands that should be on your radar. Today, we're looking at a UK government advert that was pulled for depicting outdated gender stereotypes.

The UK Government has scrapped a ‘Stay At Home’ campaign after criticism

The UK Government has scrapped a ‘Stay At Home’ campaign after criticism

The UK government has been forced to withdraw another ‘Stay At Home‘ Covid-19 ad – the second time in less than a week – after a social media ad was criticised for featuring sexist tropes.

The social media ad, which depicts women doing domestic chores, drew a lot of attention online, where it faced allegations of sexism. While the women in the infographic are seen ironing, homeschooling or cleaning, the only man depicted lounges on the sofa. It was created by the creative and digital agency, Topham Guerin.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said: “We have provided information for the public throughout the pandemic. [The advert] does not reflect our view on women and we have removed it.“

While advertising has a long history of egregious gender stereotypes, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has played a crucial role in removing them. Back in June 2019, it implemented stricted rules regarding gender stereotyping in ads - such as women in the kitchen or a man doing DIY. The ‘Stay At Home‘ ads therefore broke those rules.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet Office was forced to pull a radio ad, after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a number of complaints from people who felt the messaging was too severe.

The radio ad targeted joggers, dog walkers or working in the park, suggesting they were ‘highly likely to have Covid-19‘. The ASA is also looking into further ads, including a poster campaign that urged readers ‘don't let a coffee cost lives‘.

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