Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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ASA to investigate 'sexist' Asda ad

The advertising regulator is to formally investigate Asda’s Christmas ad, after receiving more than 160 complaints the spot is “sexist” and reinforces negative gender stereotypes.

The Advertising Standards Authority will now assess whether the spot, which features a mother preparing for Christmas and carries the strapline “Behind every great Christmas there’s mum”, is at odds with the CAP advertising code.

The volume of complaints just days after the ad’s first broadcast on Sunday (4 November) is likely to have prompted the ASA to launch the investigation more quickly than in usual cases, because it suggests it has caused “widespread offence”.

The adjudication process can often be lengthy but there is a possibility the ASA could opt to ban the ad from broadcast in the supermarket’s lucrative Christmas shopping period – a time when its competitors are marketing on TV prominently.

The ad has sparked considerable debate on Twitter, Facebook and web forums in the past week, with both men and women claiming the spot - which carries the strapline “Behind every great Christmas there’s mum” - could reinforce negative gender stereotypes.

Justine Roberts, founder and CEO of Mumsnet, told Marketing Week the ad was the subject of more than 1,000 comments on its forums in less than 24 hours.

Meanwhile, campaign group Fathers 4 Justice is encouraging its supporters to stage a series of “occupy”-style protests at Asda supermarkets, starting with its flagship Wigan store, which is set to launch its “Christmas showcase” next week.

Asda did not respond to a request to comment on the ASA’s investigation but yesterday (8 November) issued this statement in response to the recent spike in complaints about the ad: “To any mums and dads who have been upset by our Christmas TV ad – we’d like to offer our sincere apologies. It wasn’t our intention to offend anyone. Our ad depicts what many of the 16 million mums who shop in Asda tell us they feel. It is intended to be light-hearted and fun and in the main that’s how it’s been received. We respect all hard-working parents and know just how tough it is managing a family – particularly at Christmas.”

Readers' comments (18)

  • This ad is touching, funny, and representative. I I can't identify with any negative stereo-typing here when this is a reality for many families. I'm far more incensed that M&S only show a 'larger' range in women's wear whereas all the men are streamlined.

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  • I'm not the kind of person who usually takes adverts like these literally but this is so one sided toward a stereotype its unbelievable! This may be the norm for 'many' families but it is just as abnormal for 'many' families also.

    There are plenty of dad's/parents who love to share an equal role in preparing for christmas, its just unfortunate that ASDA (based on their response above) has listened only to the mothers who shop there and not any of the fathers/parents.

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  • The problem is that the as is perfect for their target who wont see it as reinforcing negative gender stereotypes. Others who are not target see it as sexist.

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  • I just saw this ad on television and immediately did an online search to see whether anyone had complained. I found it incredibly sexist, for a number of reasons.

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  • People are far, far too PC these days. There's nothing wroing with suggesting that traditionaly, Christmas is Mum cooking and shopping, rushing around for it all to be worth the effort in the end. ASDA aren't saying that Men can't do the same, and ASDA aren't being sexist. The point is that the target market of ASDA is Mums! If it were Fathers, then the advert would have looked at men playing a similar role in the preperation, and that would have been 'sexist' to the PC fools out there, as they'd have said 'what about Women?! What about what women do at Christmas?!" People need to lighten up and realise the true meaning behind this before kicking up a fuss about NOTHING.

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  • I understand that this would cause upset for fathers however I think it's important to remember that many companies use this sort of advertising as was 'traditional' take Icelan their slogan is 'that's why MUMS go to Iceland' Ialso thing this is silly Christmas is a time for us to enjoy so why do people let an advert spoil this

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  • As soon as this ad came on I was livid. If this makes me a saddo with no life then so be it- I would describe myself as someone who can see gender stereotypes a million miles off, and if I am a saddo for wanting equality for both men & women then thats fair enough. This advert is neither touching or funny. If people cannot see the 1950's style sexism then I really pity them!!

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  • As outrageous as the 'what's for tea love' line is, so many other FMCG and retail brands promote this view of mothers. I've written a piece about it below.

    http://purpletimeblog.blogspot.com.ar/2012/11/asdas-christmas-ad-controversy-sexism.html

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  • Personally I do not see it as sexist as this is the way my Christmas holidays have always been done.
    For me, I see it as a good example, to kids and to fathers, of all the hard work that mothers put in that can some times is taken for granted.
    If I were Mr Marketing at ASDA, instead of apologizing, I would create a follow up advert that shows it from a family's point of view where the dad does all the work. Silence all the critics and perhaps reach a greater audience and sell more stuff!

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  • I'm not normally someone that is precious enough to take offence easily but I do find the latest advert a little insulting to men and quite sexist. It finishes with a bold statement of 'behind a great Christmas is mum'. Well, last time I checked it was 2012, not 1952. The implication by the ad was that the mum's cooking makes Christmas. I, like many many many men in this country this day and age, do all the cooking in my household. I find find the implication that men just sit around whilst their wives do everything quite insulting.

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