Asda 'sexist' Christmas ad escapes ban despite hundreds of complaints

Asda has escaped censure after hundreds of viewers complained its Christmas ad campaign was both "sexist"' and distressing to children who had lost their mothers.

The ad watchdog was deluged with complaints after a social media campaign railed against the ad over its depiction of a mother struggling to put on Christmas, with a voice-over stating "behind every great Christmas, there's mum".

It provoked a total of 620 complaints, the majority of which focused on the ad being sexist because it reinforced "outdated gender stereotypes".

Pressure group Fathers 4 Justice also jumped on the social media backlash by encouraging protests, resulting in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) receiving complaints that the ad was offensive towards single fathers.

In addition, a number of complainants argued that the emphasis on the crucial role played by mums at Christmas was offensive to families or children who had lost mothers.

Although the ASA conceded the ad might upset some viewers, it concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread distress.

The ASA also threw out complaints that the ad was sexist, ruling the campaign was not prescriptive of the experience of everyone at Christmas, but instead reflected Asda’s view of the majority of its customers' Christmases.

Saatchi & Saatchi created the ad campaign.

A number of retailers’ Christmas ads, including Boots and Morrisons, were subject to ASA investigations after viewers complained. Decisions are still pending on whether the Boots ad was deemed to be cruel to animals and if the Morrisons ad was sexist.

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