The advertisers’ website showed a photograph of the company van which featured an image of a woman wearing a blue cropped top, white briefs and high heels whilst hanging clothes on a washing line.
The complainant considered that the advertisement was sexist and reinforced harmful gender stereotypes to anyone who may see it, including children. They felt that the advertisement was intended to catch the attention of young men and depicted hanging up washing to be a woman’s job in a sexist manner.
The advertisers said they were shocked to hear that the complainant felt the advertisement was sexist and reinforced harmful gender stereotypes.
They questioned the complainant’s concerns regarding the potential of children seeing the advertisement and said that the woman featured was wearing as much clothing as one may see on a beach where many children enjoy their summer holidays. They queried why this situation was different and suggested that perhaps the woman featured was sunbathing in the back garden and took the opportunity to hang washing out.
In response to the complainant’s belief that the advertisement was a device to catch the attention of young men they said that it could also catch the eye of young women and that they believed it was gender stereotyping to suggest only men would notice the advertisement. They also said that 90% of their customers were female and asked why they would target only 10% of their clientele in this manner.
They said that they certainly did not believe hanging washing to be a woman’s role and that they felt every member of the household should contribute to this job. They said that when updating the advert next they may choose to include a man or a child carrying out this task.
They advised that they had received a lot of positive feedback from both male and female clients regarding this advertisement and that it was often a great topic of conversation on many deliveries.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted that company vehicles were not per se in remit of the Code but that where content was marketing communication material, any image used in the marketing communication was in remit of the Code. Accordingly, the image on the Company’s website was in remit of the Code.
The Committee noted the response that the model was wearing no less than may be seen on a beach. They considered, however, that context was of great importance when making such a comparison in marketing communications. The Committee considered that people would not routinely carry out tasks such as hanging out the clothes in their underwear. Where the context was appropriate, such as for example where the product is underwear, then images of models wearing underwear appropriately would not of themselves be an issue under the Code.
In relation to an image of a woman hanging up the laundry, they did not consider that this of itself constituted gender stereotyping in circumstances where there was no implication that only a woman should carry out such an activity. However, the Committee noted that in this case there was no relationship between the lack of clothing and the task portrayed.
In the context depicted, the Committee considered that the depiction of a partially dressed woman in the advertisement was sexist and in breach of Sections 3.17, 3.18 and 3.20 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.