Gender stereotype images of male and female torsos

Gender Stereotyping Rules Set To Tighten

21st July 2017

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has this week published its report on gender stereotypes in advertising. Launched in May 2016 it was clear from the offset that this would be a wide-ranging review of issues including body image, gender specific marketing to children, perceived gender roles and more. The findings of the report indicate that there will be a change to the rules, or at the very least how they are applied.


The report took in evidence and opinions from academics, interest groups, stakeholders and the general public. The ASA concluded that in matters relating to body image, sexualisation and objectification their rulings are broadly in the right place, though they acknowledged that it would be helpful to formalise its existing position to reflect the evidence. However the report indicates that ads which depict stereotypical gender roles and characteristics, or which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes, have the potential to cause harm and tougher standards may be required.


The report cites the cumulative effect of ads, which might not be a problem in isolation, but create an overall impression that reinforces potentially harmful gender stereotypes. The ASA note that it would be disproportionate to ban all ads that are relatively unproblematic in isolation, and difficult to introduce arbitrary volume restrictions on certain types of ads.


Overall the ASA and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP, who write the advertising codes) consider the report to provide a case to strengthen regulations on the use of potentially harmful  gender stereotyping in ads.  Their intention is to encourage creative treatments that challenge or reject particular stereotypes in order to diminish the cumulative effect of potential harm.


The report contains a few examples to illustrate the direction they will be taking. Depicting a woman cleaning will not be a problem in and of itself, but an ad showing family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up is likely to be problematic. Similarly, an ad which features a man trying and failing to undertake a simple parental or household task could fall foul of the new rules.


The report is now with CAP who will develop new standards on ads featuring harmful gender stereotypes, and clarify the ASA’s existing position on objectification, sexualisation and body image. We can expect an update before the end of the year.


Read the full report here.

August 2017 Bank Holiday Deadlines

20th July 2017

Click the link below for the copy delivery/instruction deadlines that have been agreed between the IPA and the broadcasters for the August bank holiday in 2017.


Please bear in mind that, as ever, we will be clearing ads to their air dates rather than play out or copy delivery dates.


August Bank Holiday 2017 Deadlines


For all the very latest updates, follow us on Twitter.

Video Needs To Learn Some New Tricks From An Old Dog

19th July 2017

This is a guest post from John Tigg, SVP at Videology


The row over brand safety rumbles on in our industry. The recent scandals with advertising appearing against unsuitable and in some cases criminal video content have damaged the whole industry, not just those platforms responsible.


Publishers, many of whom have invested heavily to create the kind of professionally produced and editorially controlled content that advertisers love, have suffered as advertisers have swung the axe indiscriminately. What’s going on?


In recent months over 300 brands either stopped or paused their video ad spend as a whole in an effort to get a modicum of control over where their ads are appearing.


One of the great ironies here is that the news outlets that broke the brand safety story have inadvertently become victims of a mass over-reaction by marketers. Of course, no marketer wants their brand to appear next to Jihadi content but the recent widespread caution applied to all video is over the top.


The reason why the contagion has spread so far is that when marketers asked publishers and their agencies for the data that shows what content their ads appeared against, most couldn’t provide it.


Their tech stacks weren’t designed to record that information or even to ‘rate’ that content for its brand safety – just as advertisers have different audience profiles, clearly, different brands will naturally have different levels of comfort on what content they are happy to appear alongside. Adopting the principle of better safe than sorry, many simply pulled video spend altogether.


Digital is an amazing industry, it has huge talent for invention but in this case the solution to the problem is not simply to turn to another tech supplier purporting to solve the brand safety problem. The tricky thing is that brand safety is both subjective and objective in nature. One of the biggest problems is that companies are using different tech providers with different interpretations of what is ‘safe’.  Unless the industry can coalesce around a single standard, the problem will persist.


Why not look to an older industry for a solution here? Look no further than TV, or more specifically at Clearcast, the organisation that ensures TV ads always appear in the right kind of content in the UK, giving advertisers and content owners a single, agreed standard to adhere to. It may not be perfect – but it works.


The application of Clearcast’s rigorous and extensive advertising classification and restrictions process, working within the framework provided by the code of broadcast advertising (BCAP), combined with the judicious management and classification of television editorial content, means that the likelihood of an airline ad appearing in an ad-break with close proximity to a news bulletin regarding an air accident, while not fool-proof, is almost entirely mitigated.


Clearcast-type systems can work programmatically today – although many TV broadcasters review codings manually because the regulatory consequences of getting it wrong can be so severe – including in the UK the loss of their licence to broadcast.


The key here is that the demand and the supply side have a single set of rules around which they can make informed decisions. That allows brands to transparently understand the content their ads appear against, and makes publishers accountable at the same time.


I also feel that we could make more emphasis of the fact that a simple automated solution for editorial meta-data tagging can provide the necessary taxonomy for content. That can then be passed in an ad-call, providing the necessary details so that context, content and ‘rating’ can be considered when the ad-allocation process is being undertaken.


At Videology we’re already working with Clearcast as part of our role in delivering programmatic video advertising to broadcaster VOD and live broadcasts over IP. In real time, that means before we work out which brand qualifies for a given impression, we also work out which brand can and should be delivered based on the context in which it might appear and any Clearcast restriction that may apply.


It’s time for digital video to learn the lesson that TV has acquired in the many decades of linear broadcasting. Because that’s the standard that clearly makes marketers feel safe and secure in allocating their media pounds, Euros and dollars.


However, it’s not enough for one publisher to get this right, the whole industry has to get it right. Reassuring marketers that it’s safe to invest in video is everyone’s job, collectively.

Connect to us on Social Media

18th July 2017

We all know being connected on social media is the best way to stay in the loop.


As you might expect, Clearcast is active across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


So whether it’s a reminder about a useful ad clearing tool on our website,  info on planned CopyCentral maintenance and downtime, or the latest ASA rulings, make sure you hear about it from us nice and early.



The kids are alright

06th July 2017

The first half of 2017 has been an action-packed one for the Clearcast Training programme. If you have attended and enjoyed one of our in-house tailor-made courses then thank you and we hope you learnt fast with Clearcast.


As well as our usual programme, Michael, the UK and International Training Manager, has been up and down the country delivering Clearcast wisdom. Most recently The City of Love saw him training at the ARPP (French self-regulator), comparing our markets and educating French advertisers and agency folk on UK compliance. The feedback was enormously positive even with the slight language barrier, clearly the code knows no bounds. If you want to read some more on Michael’s trip to Paris then do so here.


We consider Clearcast For Better, our corporate social responsibility programme, to be highly important and far-reaching! Incorporating our skill set from the training programme we have been focusing on inspiring the young. Michael has recently delivered some sessions outlining what we do here at Clearcast and having some fun showing example adverts and discussing them vigorously (as anyone will know who has attended a session) at secondary schools around North and East London.


The Arts & Media Students at Haverstock school in Camden welcomed a unique insight to TV advertising from Michael back in May and we even got a write up in their Spring 2017 newsletter! Most recently he delivered a session at Stormont House School in Hackney whose students have learning needs in various areas, from speech and language difficulties, to severe but high functioning Autism. The training lasted 90 minutes and was designed to give them a flavour of UK advertising to help them in their future careers.  The students were engaged and gave some intriguing insight that even Michael had never thought of, let alone any other past delegates! The learning staff commented on how involved everyone felt, with special props to the creative and entertaining visuals and example ads used.


As some of you may know (or may have seen) we have taken over the ground floor of our building which is now known as ‘The Joinery’. No, we are not offering late night carpentry workshops on the side unfortunately, we are simply celebrating the history of our building.


The Joinery will be the shiny new training venue for our in-house sessions. The space is nearly 3 times the size of our old venue with a stylish interior, a powerful sound system and a 90-inch screen so those legal supers are never missed! We look forward to seeing you there.


Check out dates and courses for the rest of 2017 here or keep an eye out for our next newsletter entry!