The most sexist adverts in history

Sexist bottle advert FloraQueen EN The most sexist adverts in history

International Women’s Day is now a week away. As part of this event we have been looking at the role of women in society and today we are taking a look at some of the most sexist adverts in history.

What’s the best advert you’ve ever seen? It’s surely got to be one that really made you smile and stays long in the memory. My personal favourite is the gorilla playing the drums for Dairy Milk. Do you remember it?

Throughout history, companies have always tried to catch our attention with their adverts, but sometimes they have really crossed the line. In this blog we will take a look at many adverts from the last century that are so sexist, they almost can’t be believed. Some of these will really shock you!  

20th century

Sexist bottle advert
That famously difficult task of opening a bottle!
Sexist kitchen advert
That’s right man, put your feet up and leave your wife to deal with all of those plates!
Sexist beer advert
Maybe you could cook tomorrow?
Sexist christmas advert
In the words of Mariah Carey, “All she wants for Christmas is… a hoover”. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!


Sexist cigarette advert
I don’t know how they got away with this one!
Sexist driving advert
That’s funny. Aren’t men involved in more accidents than women?

21st century

Sadly this trend of sexist advertising wasn’t left behind with the turn of the millenium. In recent years we have still seen a number of adverts that have used the same stereotypes as those from the 20th century.

The following 2 adverts from Calvin Klein and Gap have the men/boys shown as the people who will go on to make money and be successful with women being happy doing something else. 

Sexist calvin adverts
Women “seduce” and men “make money? Thousands of women could see this every day. Who thought this was a good idea?
sexist gap advert
Stereotyped from an early age!

The following advert was displayed in the UK in 2015 and it caused a lot of controversy. As Adrielle Munger, an activitist with Redstockings, said “These advertisements are not just offending or insulting us, but oppressing us by creating a hugely pervasive climate of sexualizing women.” Do you agree? 

sexist protein world advert
Surely every body is ready


The future of adverts

However, having seen all of these, the future is looking promising! One of the world’s major companies, Unilever, who produce all sorts of goods ranging from Dove to Ben and Jerry’s, have committed to changing their adverts in the future to drop stereotypes. Research that they carried out showed that 40% of women do not identify with the women that they see in adverts. Additionally, just 2% of adverts showed intelligent women and only 1% showed women being funny. These statistics really show how advertising has been too male focused and for this reason, Unilever are going to change how they portray women in these adverts and you could imagine that other companies will be following.

A clear example of the change in Unilever is this: the first is their advert from a couple of years ago which showed a mother and daughter cooking using a Knorr stock pot and the second in the relaunched advert now features a father and his son.   

Unilever advert change

If you’ve enjoyed looking at these examples, then take a look at this BuzzFeed article with some more examples of sexist adverts from the present day.

We really hope that more companies take Unilever’s research and change in policy into account when advertising in the future. We do not want a return to the 1950’s! 

Which of these adverts shocked you the most? We would love to hear from you!


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