Men can’t work washing machines: depictions, perceptions and harm.

This month the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the UK’s advertising regulator released a reported titled “Depictions, Perceptions and Harm” the report looked to ask if the existing regulations address “the potential for harm or offense arising from the inclusion of gender stereotypes in ads.”

It was found that they didn’t.

So, from next year there will be new guidelines designed to no longer reinforce cliché gender stereotypes. This doesn’t mean that advertising showing, for example, a woman cleaning will be banned, but an ad that shows the family members making a mess and a woman having sole responsibility in clearing it up might.

Other examples from the report include: an ad that suggests an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys (or vice versa). And my favourite: an ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks.

Brands are creating more content faster than ever before. Who in each organization has responsibility for ensuring that the content created meets industry guidelines? Are content creators being trained, not only in brand, but also in industry guidelines? Which standards will teams break under cries of “don’t show this to the brand team, they’ll kill our creative idea!”

How much do brands want to risk their reputation to create content that might be funny to some – but offensive to others?

While a video might get 100s of likes but, how do you know who the content has potentially turned off from your brand?

As marketers we should welcome the new guidelines from bodies like the ASA but should we be doing more to self-regulate our creative? Not just from a moral perspective but at the risk of alienating our audiences?

After all, our purpose is to inform and sell, not just to entertain.

Will these guidelines help? Are we doing enough? Or are stereotypes harmless? Let me know in the comments below.