Asda 'sexist' Xmas ad row heats up

The number of official complaints to the advertising watchdog alleging Asda’s Christmas ad is “sexist” has snowballed to 160, driven by a backlash on social media and protests from a campaign group.

The Advertising Standards Authority confirmed to Marketing Week it has now received 160 complaints about the ad, which depicts a mother preparing for Christmas, since it launched on Sunday (4 November) - up from 24 on Tuesday (6 November).

The volume of complaints is likely to prompt the watchdog to consider a formal investigation of the advert sooner than in most normal cases. An investigation could result in the ad being banned ahead of the supermarket’s lucrative Christmas shopping period.

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.

She adds: “Most users are irritated by what they see as a patronising portrayal of an outdated version of family life and that the days when men sit around demanding their tea are long gone. That said, there are some who admit that the ad fairly accurately reflects the division of labour in their households over Christmas but even they wouldn’t put up with the ‘What’s for tea, love’ line without all hell being let loose.”

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.

When it first emerged that viewers had complained about the Saatchi & Saatchi-created ad earlier this week, an Asda spokeswoman told Marketing Week that 80 per cent of its shoppers are mums and in research its customers were “overwhelmingly positive” about the ad. In less than three hours after launching the ad Asda claims its Facebook page received 22,000 likes.

In response to the recent spike in complaints about the ad, an Asda spokesman says: “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 (46)

  • There doesn't seem to be that much of a difference between the central theme of this and the popular P&G "Best job in the world" Olympics campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVGlrs2K2ow

    Just goes to show how fine the line is in advertising between offensive and brilliant.

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  • I love this advert! i don't find it sexist it amuses me and I do think sometimes people just like finding offense in things, if you don't like it don't shop at asda its that simple but camping out in stores is silly, its a marketing ploy it works or it doesn't. I don't find it patronising to females either.

    *Sigh* there are bigger issues to stress about or be offended about than a 60 second advert!

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  • I have some real issues with the ad, not least because I'm a single dad and my daugther was abused by her mum. Many children have lost their mum.

    Asda should pay attention to research that indicates that fathers are increasing doing the family shopping. Asda is clearly not being honest in their response about the ad. They say that 16 million mums shop in Asda. The Office of National Statistics say there are 5.5 million 2 adult families with dependant children and 2 million lone parent families. Its therefore an astonishing achievement for Asda to have 16m mums shopping in Asda. BE HONEST

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  • Actually Glenn the ad you provided a link to is essentially the same, where are the fathers? When I have seen documentaries about such stars the father is almost always involved to a very significant degree. Your example reinforces the fact that men, fathers that is, are so often excluded.

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  • Dad never "went to Iceland", but that doesn't seem to have caused a problem.
    I wonder if the ad has caused embarrassment rather than upset, because it's an accurate portrayal of Christmas for so many.

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  • Just watched the ad - I can certainly relate to it & think its very poignant Well done i say Although I think realistically there should be more alcohol in 'mum's' hand!!

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  • I'm a single dad - there's no mum here and she never did the Xmas thing for us anyway. It was and remains me that does it. I find it offensive to a degree but more so for what it represents - a general and now very common dumbing down of men. Asda claiming it got 21-22k likes is disingenuous given that it involved a chance of winning £1,000. They could be advertising dog turd Xmas pies and get 22,000 likes if it potentially getting £1,000! As for their heartfelt apology, I have a better idea - pull the ad now before the brand is more permanently damaged by this.

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  • This ad reflects the research undertaken by Asda of it's core customers and their understanding of targetting that audience. It also shows a happy family and not a depressed mum put upon by her brood. This scenario is typical in many families including mine, and a role I enjoy. Like 'Anonymous' I find it amusing, not offensive or stereo typical. There are surely bigger issues out there that need campaiging against!

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  • Not offensive at all!

    It is a typical Christmas for most; you can't represent everyone.

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  • All these people saying 'it's just an ad, there are bigger things to worry about, blah blah blah'. OF COURSE there are bigger things to worry about, however that is no reason to just ignore the archaic sexist nonsense this ad is promoting. Believe it or not, I'm a mum and I do work hard to make Christmas special, but so does my partner - in fact, he does all the cooking! Sexism should have no part in advertising. We wouldn't stand for racism (can you imagine if the tagline was 'behind every great Christmas, there's a white person?') so why should we accept sexism. You might not be offended by it, but I am, and so are a lot of other people.

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