The ASA has thrown out complaints that Asda’s Christmas ad was sexist.
The ad, which featured a harassed mum running around trying to sort out Christmas for her family, received 620 complaints, the majority of which slammed the ad for reinforcing outdated stereotypes of men and women in the home.
Others complaints said the ad was likely to cause serious offence to single fathers or to men who played a primary domestic role, and that the ad could be distressing to children or families who had lost mothers.
In a response to the complaints published by the ASA, Asda said the ad focused on the role of the mother at Christmas. It acknowledged the ad did not reflect universal experience, but said that extensive consumer research and feedback indicated that the majority of their customers identified with the ads representation of Christmas.
They said they surveyed 1,896 mothers who shopped at Asda and found that 80% said that they would be responsible for the food and present shopping, and wrapping the presents. They believed the ad reflected common experience; rather than outdated stereotypes.
Asda also said although they appreciated the role of mother and father differed between households, they intended to portray a scene which reflected the Christmas experience of the majority of their customers. They also pointed out that the father played a positive role: helping with preparations, hosting the family, and looking after the children.
Asda added that there may be incidental circumstances in which a child or family member could be upset by the loss of a loved one. However, they believed the ad portrayed an informed and representative view of Christmas events.
In its judgment, the ASA said it had looked at the research Asda had commissioned before the ad. It also pointed out that while the ad focused on the mother’s role in the Christmas preparations, the father was also shown to assist in those preparations. It said it considered that viewers were “likely to understand the ad was not prescriptive of the experience of all at Christmas; rather it reflected Asda’s view of the Christmas experience for a significant number of their customers.”
It concluded the ad was not likely to be seen as condoning or encouraging harmful discriminatory behaviour, or reinforcing negative stereotypes of men or women in general, and, for those reasons, concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ASA did acknowledge the theme of the ad might upset some viewers, including children, who had lost mothers. However, it ruled the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence or distress to those viewers.
“Mums are at the heart of our business and our advert was a true reflection of everything they do to juggle their busy lives,” said an Asda spokeswoman. “They have a lot resting on their shoulders and we wanted to celebrate the amazing job they do, not just at Christmas, but day in day out to take care of their families.”