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Betting adverts should be banned, not the Oxo mum

PUBLISHED: 10:34 16 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:34 16 December 2017

Lynda Bellingham in an Oxo advert in 1987.

Lynda Bellingham in an Oxo advert in 1987.

PA Archive/PA Images

So the old images of hapless dads and housework-focused mums will be banned from television adverts in the New Year. It’s rather missing the point, says Steven Downes.

Apparently, 'traditional' television ads are reinforcing this sort of situation in households across the land. Really?Apparently, 'traditional' television ads are reinforcing this sort of situation in households across the land. Really?

Shake and Vac, the Oxo mum, Fairy Liquid’s housewife - you all stand accused.

I’ve always thought these fairly lightweight but memorable adverts were harmless fun.

But, no, apparently they were damaging my generation in the 1980s by reinforcing gender stereotypes and belittling the sexes.

So says the Committees of Advertising Practice (Cap), which has ruled that traditional mums and hopeless dads will be banned from our screens from the New Year.

Recent ads that would have been vetoed include an Oven Pride advert showing a man who is totally incapable of household tasks and Asda’s 2012 Christmas offering, which featured a mum struggling to do all the chores before serving up a sumptuous festive feast.

They are not exactly classics, but are hardly going to do any damage either.

In the real world, there are hopeless men and supermums - and hopeless women and superdads.

If all adverts focused on one stereotype, there might be a problem. But they don’t - the offending offerings are drops in a vast marketing ocean.

People should be given credit for having some intelligence; the ability to take in and filter information and decide what is good and what is not.

The irony for me is that my children’s generation are accused of being ‘snowflakes’ - melting down as soon as any pressure is applied and super sensitive to any perceived offence.

I think the label is erroneous. The majority of young people are strong, intelligent, discerning and resourceful.

But we are not helping anybody if we totally sanitise the world, including the adverts. People crumble if they have been cosseted.

With obvious limits, I prefer to see a variety of characters, stereotypes and issues on my TV screen. I can decide for myself what is right and wrong, funny or not funny, harmless or damaging.

What bamboozles me is that so much time and effort is being spent on banning silly stereotypes when downright dangerous ads remain in offensive abundance.

Can anyone convince me that a man who cannot clean an oven is more of a danger to us than the constant stream of online gambling adverts?

More fool you if you think so.

Gambling is a genuine menace that, when it gets out of control, destroys lives and families.

But, while hapless dads and multitasking mums are being banned, Ray Winstone continues to snarl “bet in play...now” at us.

Gambling adverts are everywhere - before and after the watershed.

Perhaps if Winstone said: “Girls, bet in play - but only after you’ve done the cleaning”, it’d be outlawed.

But while the only damage these ads do is to the fabric of our communities and the wellbeing of human beings, they can remain.

It’s hypocrisy.

As a footnote, despite Shake and Vac, Oxo and Fairy, I do not struggle with cooking or household chores. I’m very good at woman’s work.

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