New guidance on racial and ethnic stereotypes in ads

May 25th '23

Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published new guidance advising marketers on how to avoid racial and ethnic stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence in advertising. It provides further clarity and detail on factors the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is likely to consider when assessing complaints, drawing on learnings from its own research.


The ASA has a strong track record of banning ads that break rules prohibiting them from causing serious or widespread offence on the grounds of race or ethnic background, as well as requiring them to be socially responsible. This advice online entry provides further detail.


In 2020, the ASA undertook further research to establish whether, and if so to what extent, racial and ethnic stereotypes featured in ads may contribute to real-world harms. This new guidance draws on the conclusions of that research to set out a more detailed framework of principles describing specific types and treatments of stereotypes identified as having the potential to cause harm, and that would therefore be likely to breach rules on social responsibility.


CAP and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) recognise that ads rarely set out to include harmful racial or ethnic stereotypes, or those that are likely to cause serious or widespread offence. The ASA will consider an ad’s likely impact when taken as a whole and in context in order to determine whether it portrays a racial or ethnic stereotype likely to breach the rules.


Source: CAP


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