To Ban or Not to Ban: Is Asda's 'Mum' Ad Sexist?

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British holiday ads are usually great. (See this and this) But not all of them are resulting in warm fuzzies this year. The Advertising Standards Authority is now investigating one ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi for supermarket chain Asda, after it received hundreds of complains from viewers who saw the ad as being sexist.

In the spot, a harried mother does it all to get her family and her home ready for Christmas -- she picks the tree, positions it just right, licks stamps and addresses envelopes, and at the end, looks upon her family enjoying the day. The tagline at the end says: "Behind every great Christmas, there's mum."

Viewers have complained to the British advertising watchdog, saying that the ad makes it seem like fathers don't do anything when it comes to making the family's holidays go just right. Indeed, the ad shows the father as being a hapless bystander, choosing the wrong tree, for example. Other complaints said the ad also implies that it is a mother's job to prepare for the holidays.

According to Marketing Week, the company used insights from a survey of 4,000 mothers to create the ad, and wanted to move away from the idealistic Christmas scenario towards something more realistic.

In response to viewers' complaints, the supermarket apologized, saying: "To any mums and dads who have been upset by our Christmas TV ad -- we'd like to offer our sincere apologies. It wasn't our intention to offend anyone. Our ad depicts what many of the 16 million mums who shop in Asda tell us they feel."

However, the ASA will now launch an investigation into whether the commercial is against any of the advertising standards and practices guidelines.

But if the watchdog does decide to censure the ad -- and if it does, it will be a blow to the chain, for the holiday season is one of the most profitable times for retailers -- it might also force its hand with regard to another spot, for supermarket chain Morrisons. The ASA has received three complaints about that ad, created by DKLW Lowe, criticizing it for being sexist, because it shows a mother doing it all, from putting up the decorations to wrestling -- literally -- with a turkey.

What do you think? Does the Asda ad reinforce stereotypes? What about the commercial for Morrisons? Should either of them -- or both -- banned?

And speaking of holiday ads, IKEA recently introduced this commercial, in the United States. It features a mom-type figure moving things around the house, seemingly at random, until at the end, it becomes clear why. Would this one come under fire if it was launched in the U.K.? Are American viewers grumbling at this one, too? Tell us in the comments.

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