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PC Specialist advert banned for harmful gender stereotypes in the UK


A television ad for computer firm PC Specialist which featured only men has been banned for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes.

The ad for PC Specialist, a manufacturer and seller of bespoke PC computers, featured three men performing different activities including producing music and coding with a male voice-over which stated: "For the players, the gamers, the 'I'll sleep laters', the creators, the editors, the music makers. The techies, the coders, the illustrators ... From the specialists for the specialists."

Some eight viewers complained that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting men in roles that were stereotypically male and implying that it was only men who were interested in technology and computers.

PC Specialist said its customer base was 87.5% male, aged between 15 and 35, and their product, branding and service had been developed for that target audience.

The firm said there was no comparison between men and women in the ad and the ad did not imply that women were not interested in computers.

New rules that came into effect in the UK in June last year state that ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence".

The Advertising Standards Authority UK said the ad repeatedly cut to images of only men, who were both prominent and central to the ad's message of opportunity and excellence across multiple desirable career paths.

The ASA said: "We therefore considered that the ad implied that excellence in those roles and fields would be seen as the preserve of men.

"Because of that, we considered that the ad went further than just featuring a cross-section of the advertiser's core customer base and implied that only men could excel in those roles.

"Although the guidance did not prohibit ads from featuring only one gender, we considered that because the ad strongly implied only men could excel in the specialisms and roles depicted we concluded the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the code."

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