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ASA rejects claims Toyota advert 'perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes'

Toyota C-HR hybrid crossover

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint which alleged a radio ad for Toyota's C-HR hybrid "perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes".

The advert was part of the Hello Hybrid Happiness campaign and featured a woman who stated: “Thinking of going on a juice-only fast? Go on an even faster one with the half-car, half-juicer. Slice your commute time in half, and a lot more besides, in this vegan friendly cutting-edge hybrid.”

A man then stated: “There’s a wrong way to do hybrid. And a right way. Powered by over two decades of hybrid innovation and featuring a connected in-car multimedia screen. The Toyota C-HR self-charging hybrid is living proof not all hybrids are born equal. Hello hybrid happiness.”

The complainant, who believed that the ad portrayed men as being more rational, intelligent, and knowledgeable about cars than women, challenged whether it perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes.

Toyota GB said they did not consider the feminine voice in the ad, or the ad as whole, caused any harm or widespread offence.

The feminine voice was spoken by comedian Lauren Pattison and was chosen so that she would be associated with the comical character she was playing, Toyota said, and the masculine voice was spoken by Toyota’s brand voice that had been used for two years.

Toyota also added that in light of modern-day society and the acceptance of gender fluidity, it could be viewed as offensive to someone who had undergone gender reassignment, or someone who naturally had a higher or lower pitched voice generally associated with the opposite gender, to be assumed male or female solely dependent on the sound of their voice.

However, the genders of the characters and actors in the ad were not a determining factor in any way in their selection for the parts.

ASA said: “We acknowledged that there were well-established gender stereotypes that men were more rational and intelligent in certain areas, and more knowledgeable about cars, than women.

“We considered that the part spoken by the woman was absurd and clearly bore no connection to what a hybrid car was.

“We considered that listeners would understand that the part spoken by the woman therefore presented an individuals’ comedic, non-sensical idea to contrast the factual messages about the advertised car, and did not imply that women were less rational, intelligent, and knowledgeable about cars than men.

“Therefore, we did not consider that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes and concluded that it did not breach the Code.”

national newspaper advert aiming to showcase the “heart-pumping” excitement of Toyota’s GR Series of performance cars was banned following a complaint to the ASA by green campaigners.

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