World Cup 2014: Advertisers using ‘antiquated sexism’ in TV campaigns

Football-themed commercials criticised for their  ‘outdated’ portrayal of both male and female stereotypes

It is the safest sign that a major football tournament is imminent: an influx of adverts portraying women as sport-loathing killjoys and men as oafs interested only in goals and boobs. According to campaigners, this year’s World Cup is proving a vintage year.

A rash of regressive marketing campaigns, apparently from the imagination of 1950s ad men, have been provoking complaints. Pot Noodle’s take on the World Cup’s Brazilian location is a talking beach towel that leers at women in skimpy bikinis, which has prompted 94 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and a deluge of objections on social media.

A Unilever spokeswoman said the advert was intended to be “tongue-in-cheek” but that since “a number of viewers did not appreciate it”, it will no longer be broadcast in its current form.

Feminist campaigners say that female football fans are absent from the majority of World Cup-themed advertising and when women appear they are generally cast as either nags or window dressing.

The latest advert for Pringles (re-branded Pringoooals for the duration of the tournament) features a man with three friends in England colours watching a match on television.

When the man’s phone rings, he answers it and says: “Oh hi hon, I’m just travelling. Yeah, I’m going into a tunnel,” before sticking his mobile into a Pringles tube and putting the lid on it.

In an advert for Pringles, football-loving men avoid their ‘killjoy’ girlfriends by pretending their mobile phones are losing signal In an advert for Pringles, football-loving men avoid their ‘killjoy’ girlfriends by pretending their mobile phones are losing signal

The feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez, said: “[Adverts like these] are incredibly antiquated and not at all reflective of society and who is watching football… it’s trivialising women and turning men into slathering blokes who are only concerned with watching football, drinking beer and ogling girls. It’s embarrassing for everyone concerned.”

In a similar vein to Pringles, Curry’s PC World’s “Football? What Football?” campaign features three different husbands trying to con their wives into buying big televisions so they can watch football. The advert prompted a handful of complaints to the ASA but most saved their vitriol for social media.

One viewer, Katie Pugh, posted on Twitter: “Currys still churning out sexist adverts, completely oblivious that as many women as men will be glued to the tellybox during the World Cup!”

Another, Louise Thomson, wrote: “Not impressed with advertising using World Cup as an excuse for #everydaysexism @Pringles and Currys PC World, I’m looking at you.”

A Curry’s spokesman said: “Our current TV campaign is driven by a universal insight about relationships, which provides fertile ground for humour and if anything shows the female in the ultimate position of authority. Our advertising in no way says that only men purchase TVs.”

But Ruth Holdaway, chief executive of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, said that this kind of advertising excluded women from the game.

This Currys-PC World campaign features a husband trying to con his green-fingered wife into buying a big television for her to watch her gardening programmes on This Currys-PC World campaign features a husband trying to con his green-fingered wife into buying a big television for her to watch her gardening programmes on

“The World Cup provides an opportunity for everyone – male and female – to celebrate a sport they are passionate about,” she said. “What a shame then that so many of the current advertising campaigns using the World Cup as a hook still exclude women.”

She said they were aware of only one campaign that recognises women as having any role to play in football.

“The others present women, at best, as being disinterested in the game and at worst as being capable only of looking good on a Brazilian beach dressed in a teeny tiny bikini. Women now make over 70 per cent of household purchasing decisions.

“Furthermore, with 80,000 women in the UK telling us they want to play football and many more who love to watch the World Cup, it’s clear advertisers are missing a trick by reflecting only the dated stereotype that football is the preserve of men.”

A Pringles spokeswoman said: “The majority of our TV adverts feature men and women.”

Meanwhile, the Odeon One cinema in Liverpool has cancelled “World Cup Widow” screenings of female-friendly films during the tournament after complaints from feminist groups.

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence