A sexist advert shared by dating website Match.com has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The clip, posted on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, depicted a woman giving a man a protein drink while he has his feet up, organising socks and towels, and using a TV remote to turn the football on for him.
“I will make him his protein drink after the gym,” the voiceover says. “I always make sure he has a fresh towel and socks after his shower. I put the football on for him every evening. Find your keeper via Match. Go download the Match app today.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said someone complained about the video, which is labelled “Things that make him realise I’m a keeper”, with the person stating the ad is sexist and perpetuates damaging gender stereotypes.
But match.com has defended the ad, which was posted on 30 June, saying it intended to demonstrate that small gestures between couples are key to successful relationships and said they spoke to real couples to get examples of thoughtful deeds.
The company stated the ad was part of a series of three videos, which also included a man performing gestures for a woman and another where both men and women did acts for each other.
The firm said although the woman conducted the gestures in a domestic setting, Match.com did not believe that meant she did the larger portion of domestic chores, arguing the content of the ad did not cause serious or widespread offence.
But the advertising watchdog upheld the complaint, saying: “We noted that all of the gestures performed by the woman were domestic chores; namely, making a drink and bringing it to her partner, preparing towels for after his shower, and setting up the television so that he could watch a football game.
“Whilst we acknowledged that the ad was unscripted and based on a real couple’s relationship, we considered that the gestures shown in the ad were nonetheless stereotypically associated with the female gender.
“Because the ad relied on the stereotype of a woman carrying out domestic chores in order to please her male partner, we considered that viewers would interpret the ad as reinforcing a negative gender stereotype.”
The ASA said we “further noted that the actions of the woman were one-sided and were not reciprocated by the man” playing the role of boyfriend in the clip.
“Whilst we acknowledged that the ad formed part of a wider campaign and that another ad focused on the man’s gestures, we considered that was not evident when viewing the ad and, furthermore, it was not referenced in the ad that the man would reciprocate any of the gestures,” the agency added.
“Instead, we considered that the man was portrayed as passive whilst the woman performed the domestic chores around him.”
The advertising watchdog noted that when the woman brings her partner his drink, he has his feet on a footrest, arguing this dynamic fosters the “impression of an unequal relationship”.
“We also reviewed the voice-over in the ad and considered that it suggested that the gestures were habitual and were undertaken by the woman regularly,” the agency added.
“We considered that the longevity of the gestures implied that they were not one-off acts of kindness but were indistinguishable from chores.
“We also considered that the voice-over highlighted that the actions were done for the benefit of the man, not the woman. Given that, and in the absence of any reciprocal gestures by the man, we considered that the woman was shown to prioritise her partner’s needs over her own.”
The ASA noted the ad must be viewed in the context of its title “Things that make him realise I’m a keeper” - noting the term “keeper” refers to an individual “you could envisage” embarking on a long-term happy relationship with.
The agency added: “We considered that the title, when viewed in the context of the ad, reinforced the idea that women should be subservient to men in order to maintain a successful relationship.”
Additional reporting by South West News Service