Women More Likely To Find Ad Banned By ASA For Portraying Men As Bad Parents Sexist

Female consumers also had a more negative view of the brand and were less likely to buy the product after watching Philadelphia’s “New Dads” campaign, according to our new research.

To mark international men’s day we’ve used our emotional targeting and testing tool, UnrulyEQ, to analyse the emotions from two ads that were banned earlier this year under the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) new gender stereotyping rules.

Philadelphia’s “New Dads” – banned by the ad watchdog for featuring negative gender stereotypes – performed poorly with both men and women, but the reaction among women was particularly bad.

Female viewers were not only 37% more likely to find the commercial sexist than men, they also had a more negative view of the brand after watching. Women were also less likely to want to buy the product after watching the ad and were less engaged by the content overall.

The new rule by the ASA seeks to prevent ads from including “gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”.  The ad watchdog brought in stricter rules on harmful gender stereotypes back in December, giving the industry six months’ notice before it would start to dish out bans.

Volkwagen’s “Adapt” and Philadelphia’s “New Dads” were the first ads to be banned under the ad crackdown in August.

“New Dads”, which features two hapless fathers who get so distracted by some Philadelphia bagels on a conveyor belt they don’t notice their babies circling on the belt, was banned after receiving 128 complaints from viewers, who were incensed that it portrays men as incapable of looking after children. 

We measured the emotional reactions of 1,000 consumers in the UK using our UnrulyEQ testing tool and also surveyed participants to get their views on both ads.

The main findings of the research include:

Philadelphia’s “New Dads”

  • Philadelphia’s ad was less engaging and effective than the average UK ad. Using our EQ Score, it managed a score of 4.3/10, which is lower than the UK average of 5. It scored even lower among women (4), while men scored it at 4.5.
  • 1 in 5 viewers thought the ad portrayed people negatively, while nearly a quarter of people thought it contained negative gender stereotypes. More than a quarter of women saw the ad as sexist (26%), compared with 19% of men.
  • The ad was much less likely to leave viewers with a positive impression of the brand than the average UK ad. Only 19% of viewers were left with a more favourable view of the brand after watching compared with the UK norm of 29% – a 53% difference.
  • People were less likely to buy the product after watching. Only 26% of viewers said they would buy the product after watching the commercial, 15% lower than the UK average of 30%. Viewers were also less likely to want to find out more. 22% of viewers said they wanted to find out more about the product. That’s 41% lower than the UK average of 31%.
  • Women were less likely to buy the product than men (21% lower), less likely to find out more (20%) and came away with a less favourable view of the brand (53% lower);
  • Although the ad performed poorly overall, it did make some people laugh. Five percent of viewers found the ad hilarious – making it more than twice as funny as the average UK ad (2%); 
  • The ad left viewers feeling more confused and contemptuous than the average UK ad;
  • When asked what they thought about the ad, comments include: 
    • Positive: “Dad looking after the baby for a change”; “I liked the fact it had dads in the advert as there are too many adverts with mums in. Well done.”
    • Negative: “Men can’t look after their children properly is the unacceptable subtext”; “Patronising towards men implying they can’t be trusted to look after kids for 5 mins”; “It stereotypes men as clumsy/incompetent, like many modern adverts”.
    • Stereotypical: “These two men were forgetting their babies in favour of food, typically ‘male’ behaviour; We mums often think that men will misplace the children and this advert is an example of this. I do not however see this as particularly sexist. It’s just a funny observation of life with kids”.

We also looked at the other ad banned by the ASA in August, VW’s “Adapt”, which was banned for its negative portrayal of women. While men in the ad for the e-Golf electric car were shown as astronauts, Paralympians and mountain climbers, the only woman featured in the ad is shown sitting on a bench with a pushchair.

However, while engagement was lower than average, only 4% of men and 3% of women said they found the VW ad contained negative gender stereotypes, with more claiming that it was a negative portrayal of people with disabilities. 

Click here to find out more about UnrulyEQ.