- In a recent post I have reported about how gender stereotypes and sexism in commercial communication are resulting in an issue of growing concern throughout Europe. In Italy, the local Advertising Self-Regulation Organization (I.A.P.), aware of the problem, has also dedicated increasing attention to the problem. During the last months temporary injunctions have halted several campaign messages perceived as incompliant with the standards of fair and correct marketing.
- The President of the IAP's Review Board – entitled to act, ex officio, against advertising infringing on the Self-Regulation Code (CAP) – issued a cease and desist injunction against commercials promoting a tea beverage. The questioned commercials showed a small boy sweating over his math homework accompanied by the headline "When Math result incomprehensible, try the magic taste of [beverage XYZ]". After drinking the beverage, they boy appears at the blackboard in the features of Einstein. The female version of the commercial presented a girl in her pink colored room busy with selecting her dress of the day under the headline "If you struggle to find the right look, try the magic taste of [beverage XYZ]". The injunction found the scenarios of the girl struggling with dress picking and matching the right colors, while the boy is busy with a math test, as excessively stereotypic, discriminating gender and contrary to the principles of human dignity.
- Another injunction took issue with an outdoor ad of a tires' seller, showing a girl in micro-shorts (with not much left to imagination as to her B-side), leaning against a tractor and throwing bedroom eyes all over whoever would look at the poster. The SRO considered that 'commodification' of women occurred and 'product relevance' was totally lacking with respect to the presented female body (the latter being used only to draw attention). Therefore, the outdoor campaign infringed on the principles laid down in Article 10 of the CAP (governing Moral, Civil, and Religious Beliefs and Human Dignity).
- Finally a press ad of a prestigious international fashion magazine draw attention from the IAP's Review Board. The ad intended to promote the "Photo XYZ Festival 2017" (scheduled in November in Milan) and used a picture presenting a female in an elegant red dress, immobilized on the ground by two police men in riot helmets, one with his foot on the woman's throat, the other with a nightstick on her sternum. To none's surprise the ad was hit by a cease injunction as the SRO found that it delivered a message of abuse of power and subjugation, showing the model in a pose of helpless submission, deprived of any possibility of reaction. Hence, the ad was considered as in breach of the Code, which calls for commercial communication to avoid depicting physical or moral violence (Article 9) as well as to restrain from offending human dignity in every form and expression (Article 10).
- It is interesting to notice that while the campaigns described in Points 3 and 4 above were likely to draw the local SRO's attention in any case, the questioned commercials described in Point 1 seems to attest a different approach to gender discrimination issues. I seriously doubt that two years ago this campaign would have been questioned.
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