These are the first adverts banned under new regulations to prevent gender stereotyping

The advert showed two new fathers leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt.
The advert showed two new fathers leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt.
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An advert depicting two men forgetting about a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt is one of the first to be banned under new rules prohibiting gender stereotyping in advertising.

A total of 128 people objected about the commercial for Philadelphia soft cheese which featured two new fathers leaving a baby on the belt as they chose their lunch. A second advert, for Volkswagen, also fell foul of the new laws after three people complained about an ad which they said showed men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role.

The Advertising Standards Agency, which announced the new rules surrounding gender stereotyping at the end of last year, said the complainants about the Philadelphia advert believed the ad "perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children and would place them at risk as a result of their incompetence".

The rulings were the first since the regulations came into force on 14 June.

Philadelphia owner Mondelez said the ad was intended to highlight the appeal of the product by showing a humorous situation in which parents found it so delicious they got momentarily distracted from looking after their children - and argued the gender roles could easily be reversed. The firm added that men were a growing market for their product.

However, the ASA said although they acknowledged the action was "intended to be light-hearted and comical" and that there was "no sense that the children were in danger", the the men were portrayed as "somewhat hapless and inattentive, which resulted in them being unable to care for the children effectively".

The ASA said: "In combination with the opening scene in which one of the babies was handed over by the mother to the father, and the final scene in which one of the fathers said “Let’s not tell mum”, we considered the ad relied on the stereotype that men were unable to care for children as well as women and implied that the fathers had failed to look after the children properly because of their gender.

"We also considered that the narrative and humour in the ad derived from the use of the gender stereotype. We did not consider that the use of humour in the ad mitigated the effect of the harmful stereotype; indeed it was central to it, because the humour derived from the audiences’ familiarity with the gender stereotype being portrayed."

In relation to the Volkswagen ad - which showed a sleeping woman and a man in a tent on a sheer cliff face, two male astronauts floating in a space ship and a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump before a final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram - the ASA also upheld the complaints.

It said: "Taking into account the overall impression of the ad, we considered that viewers were likely to focus on the occupations of the characters featured in the ad and observe a direct contrast between how the male and female characters were depicted."