My favourite advert of the last ten years was probably the “Are you beach body ready?” Protein World poster campaign.
Partly I liked it because it featured a hot-looking girl in a bikini, so naturally it appealed to my inner caveman.
Partly I liked it because it annoyed so many of the right people — everyone from London’s closet Islamist Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, to all the feminists who were outraged that in the 21st century men still want to stare at semi-naked hot chicks with slim bodies more than they want to stare at minging porkers with blue hair and PhDs in gender studies and multiple cat maintenance.
Mainly I liked it because it was a glorious throwback to a happier, better age when advertising did what it is supposed to do: appeal to our most basic instincts in order to seduce us into buying stuff.
These were the days when all aftershave ads gave the impression that if you slapped on the right product you’d get laid — even, no, especially, if you were a spotty teenager and all you could afford was Old Spice or Brut.
When you learned that if you smoked the right brand of cigarettes you’d become cool and rugged like the Marlboro cowboy, or mysterious and chic like the Silk Cut ads, or fast and dangerous like the black and gold John Player Special racing car.
When you learned that if you drank spirits you’d magically enter a world like Duran Duran on a yacht full of beautiful, available women, and that if you drank lager you’d become one of the lads and get extra good at the banter.
When you learned that if you made your gravy with Bisto or you washed up your dishes with mild green Fairy Liquid or your family’s clothes with Persil automatic you’d become the perfect Supermum with soft, unwrinkly skin just like women crave.
Never did occur to any of us in those happy days that we were being indoctrinated with the kind of negative gender stereotypes which must be expunged from our consciousness if ever we are to make a better, fairer, more socially just world.
We just thought it was normal. As indeed it is. Women, once they’ve grown out of their “Uni” feminist phase, are still going to be about a gazillion times more interested than men are in adverts for chocolates, disposable nappies, panty pads, and cleaning equipment. Men are still going to be much more interested in ads showing products — booze, cigarettes, gadgets — which they imagine will somehow make their willies bigger, make them look cooler and sexier, and win them more shags.
Human nature hasn’t changed and never will.
What has changed is the nature of the environment in which these normal instincts are permitted to operate. Once we were encouraged to celebrate and enjoy human nature — and the fairly obvious differences between men and women. Now we’re being ordered to pretend these things don’t exist.
Let’s look in detail at one particularly dispiriting example of this: a British regulatory institution almost no one had heard of before — the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) — has launched a crackdown on gender stereotypes in British advertising.
As Virginia Hale reported yesterday:
Adverts showing a housewife looking after the family will be banned from next year in an industry-wide crackdown on “harmful stereotypes” which researchers allege contribute to “real-world gender inequalities”.
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which creates and maintains advertising codes in Britain, on Friday published guidance on depicting gender stereotypes ahead of new rules coming into force in June 2019.
“An ad that depicts a man being adventurous juxtaposed with a woman being delicate or dainty is likely to be unacceptable,” states the guidance, which claims that gender stereotypes can lower viewers’ self-esteem and “limit their aspirations and ability to progress in key aspects of their personal and professional lives with harmful consequences for them and for society as a whole”.
Adverts which depict a boy as “daring” and a girl as “caring” are similarly “likely to be problematic”, as well as promotions showing men as being more capable at DIY or parking a car and women excelling at childcare or cleaning, according to the document.
But wait just a second. Men are, on balance, generally more adventurous than women: more prone to risk-taking, speeding, doing stupid things like cave diving or BASE jumping or gambling or hard-drinking. Women, on balance, are more delicate and dainty.
So what the Committee of Advertising Practice is ordering the advertising industry to do is deny the existence of something every normal person knows to be true. In doing so, it will interfere with the creative freedoms of copywriters to communicate with the market — and make it harder for businesses to sell their products in the most effective way.
How did it acquire this extraordinary power?
The Committee of Advertising Practice is an offshoot of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a self-regulatory organisation funded by the advertising industry.
It’s possible — though I doubt it — that there was a time when the ASA served a useful function. It used to run a campaign called “Legal? Decent? Honest? Truthful?”, supposedly to protect us from adverts that didn’t meet the mark.
But what has clearly happened since is that both the CAP and the ASA have engaged in mission creep. This is often the case with regulatory bodies: in order to justify their existence and boost their power, they invent a host of new tasks for themselves.
Also, by nature, they tend to attract the worst people in the world: not the creatives, not the account-handlers, not the doers and thinkers and business brains who might make a go of it in the competitive realm of commercial advertising — but the meddlers, the bossy pants, the prigs, the censors, the social justice warriors and the bansturbators.
As Vox Day argues in SJWs Always Double Down, almost every institution eventually gets suborned by these people — usually through the Human Resources or Sustainability or Diversity departments, or under the guise of something called “best practice”.
This is not a problem confined to the UK. It’s rampant across Western culture from the United States to Australia, part of a trend in which incredibly stupid, ill-informed people are able to work themselves into positions of extraordinary power and influence – see, eg Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – so long as they can flaunt the correct woke platitudes.
“Harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements”, pronounces one Shahriar Coupal. Oh really? And who exactly are you when you’re at home?
Oh. Turns out that this nonentity is Director of the CAP, which — apparently — grants him the power to dictate the style, tone and content of one of Britain’s most imaginative, lucrative, and world-beating industries.
Then there’s one Ella Smillie, who also has an ex cathedra pronouncement to make:
“Harmful gender stereotypes in ads contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society.
‘They can hold some people back from fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy.”
Really, Emma? Prove it.
I don’t mean cite some parti-pris paper by some second-rate feminazi sociologist at some third-rate ex-polytechnic “peer-reviewed” by a bunch of fellow leftist academic loons.
I mean: demonstrate to all of us beyond reasonable doubt why you — with your BA in French and German from King’s College, London, your six years as “Media & Advertising Manager” at ISBA, “the Voice of British Advertisers”, and your 11 years as an industry regulator on the Regulatory Policy Executive at the Committees of Advertising Practice — know better than the £21.9 billion British advertising industry does how it should conduct its business, how it should market its products, how it should connect with the public.
The arrogance of these government licensed control freaks is extraordinary. First they came for the tobacco industry, and forced through the plain packaging/offensive photographs of cancerous organs marketing rules despite no evidence whatsoever that these act as a deterrent. Then they came for the sugar industry — and succeeded in ruining brands like Lucozade, upping the price of fizzy drinks, but making no difference to consumption. Now, such is their breathtaking chutzpah and insatiable urge to ban and regulate, they want to stop advertisers making adverts showing images to which normal people can relate.
Truly there has got to be a backlash. Why does the industry put up with it? Why do consumers? Slowly but surely — no, actually, with worrying rapidity — our freedoms are being eroded. Yet not nearly enough people are saying: “Hang on a second. This is madness!”