An examination of the impact of gender inequality and feminism on advertising rules in the United Kingdom and Ireland
Research has shown that the depiction of gender stereotypes in advertisements can have gradual and cumulative effect on individuals leading them to make different choices in life, impact the way they interact with the people around them and limit their aspirations causing them to form opinions and beliefs reinforced by a society which has perpetuated gender inequality for centuries. Building on existing literature and studies published on the topic, this study investigates the differences between the British advertising industry and the Irish advertising industry, with a specific focus on how issues of gender inequality and feminism have impacted the rules and regulations governing the advertising industry of both nations. There is a focus on the most recent rules to be put into place in the United Kingdom by the Advertising Standards Authority: rules 4.14 and 4.9 which seek to ban the depiction of harmful gender stereotypes in advertising. A review of the literature indicated that feminism and issues of gender are closely linked with the advertising industry. An analysis of marketing principles such as the Marketing Mix and the AIDA model allowed for a deeper understanding of why gender stereotypes are still used in advertising. An examination of the history of stereotypes in advertising through the major four feminist movements was also undertaken. Semi structured interviews were conducted, this research method allowed the researcher to explore significant areas identified following the literature review and also during the interviews such as: historical gender inequality, freedom in advertising, the physical portrayal of women in advertising and the mirror versus mold theory. This study concludes that the 21st has again brought gender inequality to the forefront of conversation and the UK has, in accordance with societal changes implemented new rules to prevent the perpetuation of harmful gender stereotypes in advertising. ASA rules 4.14 and 4.9 haven’t eliminated all areas of potential harm caused by the portrayal of genders in advertising, these rules are only a first step and lay the foundation for the UK advertising industry to more accurately portray the realities of gender norms in society today. Following an examination of the Irish advertising industry, this study finds there to be no immediate call for rules pertaining to gender stereotypes to implemented by the ASAI, historical issues relating to gender inequality in Ireland is a major contributing factor to this lack of demand.