End of Harmful Gender Stereotypes in ads

28th February 2019

By Niamh McGuinness, Head of Copy Clearance


This June will see the introduction of a new BCAP rule that will prohibit advertising from depicting harmful stereotypes.


The rule will be added to the Harm and Offence section of the Code stating:


Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.


In 2017 the ASA published a review of gender stereotypes in advertising, the outcome of which it agreed showed evidence in support of the introduction of a new rule on gender stereotyping.


Both the CAP and BCAP Committees, responsible for writing the broadcast and non-broadcasting Codes, agreed to the introduction of a rule and, before it was agreed and consulted on, industry workshops were held to frame the rule and its accompanying guidance.


Following public consultation on the rule, it was announced that it will come into effect on 14th June this year.


Although some consultation respondents thought the proposed rule and its accompanying guidance did not go far enough to eliminate gender stereotypes in advertising, the majority agreed with the proposals.  Advertising is considered only one of a wide-ranging set of factors that influence gender outcomes and in agreeing to the introduction of the rule the Committees agreed the rule should be proportionate to any potential harm caused by advertising.


So, what does the new rule mean for TV ads?


Will it be necessary in future to avoid showing women doing housework or being homemakers?  Will ads showing boys playing with cars, trains or construction toys or girls playing with pink toys/accessories not be allowed?


There is an acknowledgement that harmful stereotypes are not widespread in advertising and that featuring gender stereotypes per se is not harmful or likely to lead to serious or widespread offence.


The rule has been published alongside detailed guidance which outlines (non-exhaustive) scenarios giving guiding principles on what is and is not likely to be acceptable under the new rule.


The guidance is split into five parts:

  1. Gender-stereotypical roles and characteristics
  2. Pressure to conform to an idealised gender-stereotypical body shape or physical features
  3. Children
  4. Vulnerable groups
  5. People who don’t conform to gender stereotype


Among other things, in future it will not be acceptable to show men or women in typical gender stereotypical roles if, by doing so there is an implication that how they are depicted is expected or the norm or associated with only one gender.  For example, ads should not imply that women are uniquely associated with being carers or homemakers to the exclusion of others and neither men nor women should be shown as incapable of undertaking tasks because of their gender.  Also, ads should not mock or make little of those that do not conform to what might be considered stereotypical expectations for their gender.


Ads featuring children can continue to target products to a particular gender but care will be needed that there is no suggestion that what is shown is exclusive to or inappropriate for others.  Ads should not deliberately seek to show the exclusion of specific genders from activities or pursuits or to indicate that, for example, boys are always adventurous and girls are always caring; children’s choices should not be seen as limited.


Clearcast will have a close eye on all ads that are submitted in the lead up to and after the introduction of this rule on 14th June and will be on hand to offer our best expert advice on how the rule should be applied.


If you have any further questions, please speak to your Clearcast Executive.



Easter Deadlines 2019

27th February 2019

We’ve now received the copy instruction, delivery & approval timetable which has been agreed by ITV, Sky Media, Channel 4 and Turner for the 2019 Easter period.


For VoD campaigns running between 19th – 24th April all copy, rotations, tracking tags, copy changes & approval need to be received by April 11th.


Airdate Copy Instructions By  Copy Delivery By  Copy Approved By
Monday 15th April 10th April 10th April 10th April
Tuesday 16th April 11th April 11th April 11th April
Wednesday 17th April 12th April 12th April 12th April
Thursday 18th April 15th April 15th April 15th April
Friday 19th April**  15th April  15th April 15th April
Saturday 20th April 15th April 16th April 16th April
Sunday 21st April 15th April 16th April 16th April
Monday 22nd April**  16th April 16th April 16th April
Tuesday 23rd April 16th April 16th April 16th April


** Bank Holiday


To comply with these deadlines PLEASE ensure additional time is factored in for Clearcast approval. Approval should be before or by the delivery date, please be aware 2 clear working days are required for approval.

Sky requires all agencies to use CARIA® to send copy instructions from June 1st 

26th February 2019

Sky has announced it’s requesting all agencies to use CARIA® to send copy instructions (except for spot by spot and AdSmart rotations which currently CARIA® doesn’t process). This will take effect for any campaigns that have a start date of 1st of June 2019 and beyond.


Sky has discussed training needs with Optimad Media Systems (who own and operate CARIA®) and they have agreed to work with agencies to provide access to the system (at no additional charge) and also provide training if necessary, which can be provided remotely.


In order to ensure everything runs smoothly, agencies should contact Optimad Media Systems soon to arrange this, if required.


Email address: cariasupport@optimad.com

Telephone number: 020 7468 6640


Further details of the change can be found on Sky’s website





Getting your fashion ads right

20th February 2019

By Louise Glover and Vicki Ford, Copy Group Executives


London Fashion Week has just taken its biannual bow and once again front rows were filled with editors, buyers, trend forecasters and celebrities eager to see the hottest designers showcase their work.


London Fashion Week recently took the decision to become the first of the main fashion weeks to go fur-free. It isn’t yet certain whether other fashion weeks will follow suit but it’s evident that the current climate which surrounds animal cruelty is having an astounding impact on the world of fashion.


As well as the catwalk, the fur-free movement is also influencing advertising. Recently the ASA announced an Enforcement Notice on Misleading ‘Faux Fur’ claims in clothes and accessories which is applicable to all relevant advertisers in the UK across all media, including online and social media.


This enforcement follows two non-broadcast ASA rulings, against BooHoo.com UK Ltd and Zacharia Jewellers. Both advertisers claimed they had been told that the fur used wasn’t real but tests showed that the fur was in fact real. The ASA recognised that both advertisers had removed the products from sale following receipt of the complaints but concluded that both ads were misleading and breached the CAP code.


Here at Clearcast, we see lots of fashion and clothing TV ads and in recent years a small proportion of these attracted complaints to the ASA around the themes of the weight of models, sexualisation of young models and objectification.


We’re going to look back at some recent ASA rulings and hope our guidance will help you with any future fashion, makeup or clothing ads you may submit for approval.


Advertisers need to tread carefully when it comes to a model’s BMI/weight in an ad. Even though a model may technically be a ‘healthy’ weight and BMI, the image portrayed in the ad could be considered less so, and therefore deemed socially irresponsible. When looking at a Nasty Gal upheld ruling from June 2018, you’ll notice the ASA pointed out that whilst the female model in question looked to be in proportion, there were specific scenes which drew attention to her slenderness, the stretching of her arms emphasised their slimness and length and a focused shot of her chest highlighted her rib cage. They deemed the ad in breach of BCAP code rule 1.2 (social responsibility).


Today the ASA announced a ruling for a Bare Minerals VoD ad and chose not to uphold complaints. A viewer challenged the ad as they believed that two of the models featured appeared to be unhealthily thin. Bare Minerals said that the primary focus of the ad was of the models’ faces rather than their bodies and their policy is to feature healthy looking women, not those who are unhealthily thin. The ASA recognised certain scenes where some of the models’ collarbones and angular shoulders were shown but thought  these scenes were brief and the models’ poses did not accentuate these features and therefore concluded that the ad was not in breach.


The ASA  takes a hard line  when it comes to how younger girls are presented in ads. With many brands whose target market are between the ages of 16-25, advertisers use young models who they believe are representative not only of the brand but also of those who purchase the products or follow them on social media. We consider this age group  to be vulnerable and ads should be sensitive to the emotional and physical well-being of young people who may be under pressure to conform to certain body types or physical attributes.


From a Clearcast perspective, when it comes to advertising fashion brands the advertiser should consider the following:


Model’s age: we will always require confirmation that a model is over the age of 18. When assessing ads, the ASA will consider whether models seem to be younger than 18, as well as their real age. So, although you may be using a model who could be in their 20s, a youthful appearance could lead viewers to believe they are 16 or younger.


The clothing, make up and body language of models must be considered. In 2017, Pretty Little Thing had complaints made about two ads, which were upheld because the ASA believed the young-looking girls in the ad had been sexualised. Despite the models being 23 and 24, it was upheld because of the following:


  • The models were engaging in what the ASA considered to be juvenile and mischievous behaviours; swinging off an arch and clambering on top of props. This contributed to the girls appearing to be younger than they were.
  • One of the girls had two high hair buns, doe eyes, long lashes and a very lean frame which gave her a very youthful appearance.
  • The outfits featured, although popular during summer festivals, were body suits exposing buttocks, shorts, bralettes and tight body con dresses. All outfits were tight fitting and revealing.
  • The poses drew attention to their chests and bodies with the models standing with the back towards the camera with their buttocks partially exposed.
  • The facial expressions of the models were often sultry and seductive.


The ASA decided overall that the models were presented as juvenile and mischievous as well as overtly sexual and that the ad breached the BCAP code.  It’s very important to think carefully about the presentation of models when advertising brands that appeal to a young demographic.


An example of TV ad that attracted complaints on the grounds of objectifying women is an ad for Skechers, featuring TV presenter Kelly Brook.  She says, “I like my clothes form fitting, but not my shoes. That is why I wear Skechers knitted footwear. So I look and feel my best. People tend to notice things like that.” As she walks down the road a selection of men can’t stop themselves from looking at her. The ASA concluded that as Kelly Brook isn’t wearing revealing clothing and her behaviour isn’t sexualised, the ad didn’t breach the BCAP code.


Fashion and retail ads are quite rightly under a sharp spotlight to protect vulnerable groups and we have more progressive advertising rule changes to come in June to prevent harmful gender stereotyping being used in ads (watch this space for a related blog).

All change for on-screen text in ads

08th February 2019

In mid-December, we emailed our contacts to advise of the new BCAP supers guidance that takes effect from 1st March 2019.

To help you with the transition, we have produced a short document that should serve as a useful guide on the changes, with some examples of dos and don’ts. You can download it here. It’s not exhaustive but does cover the most common issues.

If you have further questions about the new guidelines you can reach our Operations Team with any questions at help@clearcast.co.uk.

And remember…Clearcast is happy to create your supers for you, via our Edit to Clear service. Please contact Mark Hynes on 020 7339 4700 for further info and costs.