Do ‘lame stereotypes’ make for bad ads?

In recent days, I’ve been spending some time browsing Ad Standards Board complaints.

And in quick succession I came across the same observation a couple of times.

BWM’s Selleys ad featuring a housewife flirting with a tradie and Lavender’s Westpac ad with a camp male duo, both attracted complaints, and were both cleared by the ASB.

But its observations were similar in both cases – the ads were undeniably stereotypes, but they were acceptable.

The ASB said of the Sellys ad: “The Board considered that the advertisement was not negative in the portrayal of the handsome tradesman and housewife, but stereotypical, and would be considered humorous to most members of the community.

And of the Westpac couple: “The Board considered that the men are presented in a manner which, although somewhat stereotypical, focuses on their frustration as business owners and is not negative.”

However, some stereotypes are less acceptable. Previously it ruled against a Brut Max ad by Loud which featured a robot putting a woman in a ute tray, saying: “The transformation from a doll to this particular buxom, very attractive woman dressed in a bikini also objectifies a particular type of women and perpetuates a stereotype of ‘desirable’ women.”

So it’s interesting to hear an eloquent argument – in this newly uploaded presentation given at the TED Women conference in the US in December.

In it media researcher Johanna Blakley argues that “lame stereotypes” make for bad advertising.

She makes the case well.

Tim Burrowes


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