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Football-themed commercials criticised for their  ‘outdated’ portrayal of both male and female stereotypes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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)