Is the tired old stereotype of the moronic dad finally at risk? A TV ad featuring two new dads failing to look after their babies has just been slapped with a ban in the UK under new rules designed to stop gender stereotyping.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ad for Philadelphia cream cheese, following complaints that it perpetuated harmful stereotypes.
In the ad, two new dads are shown having lunch at a restaurant. Deep in conversation, they somehow fail to notice that their babies are whisked away on a conveyor belt for buffet food. “Let’s not tell mum,” one of them says.
Some 128 people complained to the ASA about the ad for promoting a negative stereotype that suggested men were incapable of caring for children and would put them at risk as a result of their incompetence. The ASA promptly banned the ad.
In its ruling, the ASA said: “The men were portrayed as somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively. We therefore concluded that the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype, namely that men are ineffective at childcare.”
So is this just more confected outrage from the fun police? An over-sensitive backlash from the politically correct brigade? Not really. And you don’t have to be a lactose intolerant kill-joy to see why.
The ASA guidelines plainly state that ads should not reinforce the bungling dad stereotype. But Philadelphia did exactly that in a pretty lazy manner, hammering the message home with the “let’s not tell mum” punch-line.
The ad might seem harmless, but it’s not helpful when considered in the broader social context. From parental leave schemes to gender pay gaps, right now there’s a huge push to forge greater equality for men and women in the workplace. Yet the flipside of that equation must include the roles that mums and dads play at home. Anything reinforcing the idea that men are parental buffoons is ultimately part of the problem.