IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Volkswagen, Philadelphia Cream Cheese ads banned in UK over gender stereotype rules

A British regulatory group pulled the plug on two commercials it says violate a new rule against harmful stereotypes in advertising.

A Volkswagen car commercial and a Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad have been yanked in Britain over a new rule that bans gender stereotyping in advertisements, a regulatory agency ruled.

Under new rules introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority in June, ads in the U.K. “must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to case harm, or serious or widespread offense.”

The ban covered scenarios such as a man who can't change diapers or "a woman's inability to park a car," the agency said.

In Volkswagen's case, an ad for its eGolf car showed men floating in space and performing athletic feats, while the final scene showed a woman reading on a bench next to a stroller. Its tagline said, “When we learn to adapt ... we can achieve anything.”

Britain for perpetuating gender stereotypes
Robert Pearson - Canada / Worldwide/YouTube
Britain for perpetuating gender stereotypes
The Volkswagen commercial featured men engaging in adventurous activities and a woman reading on a bench next to a stroller. Robert Pearson - Canada / Worldwide/YouTube

The Philadelphia Cream Cheese spot showed two dopey dads getting distracted by food as a child zips away on a restaurant conveyor belt.

“Let’s not tell mum,” one says, after rescuing his child.

Approximately 128 people complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) about the cream cheese ad, and three people complained about the Volkswagen spot, according to the BBC.

"Ads that specifically contrast male and female stereotypes need to be handled with care," ASA investigations manager Jess Tye told the BBC. "It's about thinking about what the cumulative effect of those gender stereotypes might be."

Mondelez International, the company that owns Philadelphia Cream Cheese, disagreed with the ASA's decision.

“We are extremely disappointed with the ASA decision. We take our advertising responsibility very seriously and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all UK regulation," a Mondelez spokesperson said in a statement to TODAY.

"This includes pre-approval from a recognised television advertising body, before any advert is aired to the public.”

The ASA stood by the ruling. Though the British watchdog acknowledged the Philadelphia ad was “intended to be light-hearted and comical,” it took issue with how the “men were portrayed as somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively.”

Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing for Volkswagen UK, told TODAY in a statement the car company also didn't believe their ad put women in a negative light.

"Just like the men, they are shown taking part in challenging situations, such as in a tent perched on a mountainside," Ingham said, adding that the woman with the stroller is "embarking on what is surely life's greatest and most valuable role — raising another human being."

The rule banning gender stereotyping came into effect in June.

At the time, Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said research showed that gender stereotypes in ads contribute to inequality in society and "play a part in limiting people's potential."

“It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals," he said.