News & Events


New Advertising Guidance: Leaving Gender Stereotypes in 2018…

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published new guidance aimed at tackling harmful gender stereotypes in broadcast and non-broadcast advertisements (including online and social media).

Following a public consultation earlier this year, CAP has announced a new rule on gender stereotypes in broadcast and non-broadcast advertisements. The rule, which will be set out in rule 4.9 of the Non-Broadcast Code (CAP Code) and rule 4.14 of the Broadcast Code (BCAP Code) and will come into force on 14 June 2019, states that:

“Marketing communications must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”

CAP has published guidance to help advertisers understand how the new rule will work in practice and has offered the following as examples of scenarios which are likely to be problematic in ads:

  • An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.

  • An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.

  • Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.

  • An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.

  • An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.

  • An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.

It’s important to remember that these new rules won’t just apply to traditional advertising in the form of television adverts and printed media. The new rules will also apply to content created and promoted through social media platforms by social influencers, bloggers and vloggers – as long as it qualifies as an ad. If you work with an individual or business to create content which they promote via their social media pages, it will qualify as an advert if you:

  • paid them in some way; and

  • had some form of editorial control over the content, no matter how small.

The payment doesn’t have to be financial; it could be by way of free products, services or gifts, but there must be an element of control. This could be requiring the individual to use particular phrases, hashtags or key themes, or it might be that you reserve the right of final approval.

If the content qualifies as an ad, it’s important to ensure your paid partners are following the new guidance, particularly if the ad depicts or targets children or vulnerable groups.

It is important that your advertisement complies with the relevant code which will be either the BCAP Code or the CAP Code, depending on the medium used. Should you require any further assistance following on from this article or in relation to advertising in general, please do not hesitate to contact a member of BPE’s Commercial team.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

Get in touch

Talk to us about your legal challenges and discover how our expert, pragmatic legal advice and broad commercial acumen can help.