As many of you will no doubt be aware, a report by the EU’s women’s rights committee has been submitted to the European Parliament seeking to ban the promotion of women as sex objects and anything which reinforces gender stereotypes.
A quick tour of the average shopping centre would reveal a lot of brands who would be severely compromised by this type of legislation.
Yorkie, with its "not for girls" strap line would have to have a rethink. Lynx, which runs what I believe is one of the premier advertising campaigns in memory with its "Lynx effect" promotions, would have to reposition its whole brand. Playtex Wonderbra would no longer be able to use promotions like its classic "Hello Boys".
If a ban on reinforcement of gender stereotypes was actually applied in a strict sense, surely it would also mean a dramatic rethink of the entire cosmetics industry and the clothing business, to name a few?
Like many EU proposals, it simply doesn’t work. The lunatic who has introduced the report is Swedish ME Eva-Brit Svensson. As stereotypes go, it’s a bit of a letdown that a Swedish woman should be pushing this proposal. Shouldn’t she be filming some porn, before relaxing naked in the sauna? As far as I can see that would be far better for everyone.
The good news is that whatever the EU vote decides it is not legally binding on the member countries. In other words, it’s an utter waste of time when the EU could be looking at shortening the huge backlogs in other, more pressing areas.
However, if even one EU country should choose to adopt these hardline, boring and commercially suicidal recommendations, it would cause problems for a lot of brands.
Anyone sensible knows that a brand is about consistency in terms of product identity and the message delivered to consumers. To suggest that any brand should be forced by something as ridiculous as this to market itself one way in sensible countries and another in hardline, party-pooper countries is unacceptable and simply will not work.
The Advertising Standards Authority here in the UK already bans adverts from being "discriminatory or harmful when depicting men or women" and other bodies elsewhere have similar relevant measures.
Let us hope that this all comes to nothing.
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