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Nestle accused of sexism, advertising watchdog disagrees

The Advertising Standards Board has dismissed complaints that a Nestle commercial is sexist and objectifies the man in the advert.

The television commercial for Nestle’s Sweetened Condensed Milk features a man cooking in the kitchen (Dave). He is not wearing a shirt but has an apron on. Two women (unseen) are commenting on the addition of the Sweetened Condensed Milk to the baking process and on the lavish spread on the bench. At the end, he lifts the head on the electric mixer before switching it off properly, and is splattered with cream.

Consumers complained “if the roles were reversed, with a young woman and older men, many people would object. Sexism works both ways. The young man is being objectified.”

Nestle responded by saying it intended for the advert to engage with women “in a humorous and off-beat manner.”

“While there might be an initial hint of a double entendre in the opening lines – with the women admiring our hero baker, it is soon apparent that the women are in fact talking about the lavish spread on the bench and the product being advertised and not the baker in the kitchen,” Nestle said.

“The tone used by the women is light hearted and flirty and the baker clearly interacts with the camera. There is no suggestion that the women are treating the baker in a manner which amounts to discrimination or vilification.”

The Advertising Standards Board sided with Nestle and concluded that the man in the advert is “clearly empowered and is not presented in manner which is degrading to men.”

The Board said in order to be in breach with the Code, the image would need to use sexual appeal in a manner that is both exploitative and degrading.

The Board noted that its role is to consider each advertisement on its own merit and that addressing hypothetical alternatives, such as if a woman was used instead, is not part of its role.

The Board concluded that the advertisement did not breach the Code on other grounds and dismisse the complaints.

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