The Advertising Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint made against a July 2020 TV ad for Rightmove.
The ad featured a man in his empty living room sitting down to read a truck magazine. When he lowered the magazine, four little girls were playing noisily in the living room. One said, “Dad …” and two of them were playing recorders. The man was then shown on the sofa with his female partner and four daughters who were putting face paint on him and styling his hair. He was then shown trying to read in the bathroom. A fire alarm went off and a girl holding a mixing bowl opened the door and said “Dad, something really bad has happened!”. The man was then shown sitting in the back garden with his magazine. He looked up to see a dog with a pink bow in its hair whining and holding a lead in its mouth, and there was a sound of thunder and rain.
On-screen text stated “When life moves, make your rightmove”. The man was shown looking at Rightmove listings on his phone. The next scene showed the exterior of a larger house, followed by the woman unpacking and the girls playing inside. The man was shown going into a shed at the bottom of the garden and sitting down to read his magazine as his little girls’ faces appeared at the shed window.
The complainant, who believed that the ad depicted women and girls as demanding and annoying and men as not taking responsibility for childcare, challenged whether it perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes.
Rightmove Group said the ad was made to bring to life one of the most common reasons for moving home, the need for more space and did not believe that the ad perpetuated or relied upon harmful gender stereotypes.
Clearcast said that the ad provided an insight into a family wanting to move home in order to have more space. They did not consider that the father was shown attempting to avoid childcare and domestic duties.
The ASA’s code stated “Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”. The joint CAP and BCAP Advertising Guidance (the guidance) said that ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles, but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely associated with one gender.
The ad watchdog considered that the overriding impression of the ad was of a family’s hectic life in a home that they were outgrowing and that the scenes in which the dad was shown relaxing were those exceptional times when he tried to take a few moments for himself, rather than a harmful depiction of a father who avoided childcare and domestic chores or of women and girls proving an annoyance specifically on the basis of their gender. While the presentation of the scenario undeniably drew on gender stereotypes, we did not consider that it did so in a way that was likely to cause harm.
It investigated the ad under BCAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.14 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.