Crown Paints has sparked a “misogyny” row after including a joke about the paternity of a baby in an advert.
The ad, which is one instalment of a three-part series called Life Stories, includes a song about the four-year relationship between Hannah and Dave and their decision to have a baby.
The lyrics state: “Now a baby’s coming and they don’t know what it is”, before continuing – “Hannah’s hoping for a girl, Dave’s just hoping it’s his.”
Hannah and Dave’s big news has meant a big change to their previously grey spare room 🎨
Whether you’re renovating an old home, or welcoming a baby into a new nursery, we’re here for you. For us, it’s #notjustpaint, #itspersonal
🔗 Discover more: https://t.co/ZiFAko4cHe pic.twitter.com/g5B4o5fgGW
— Crown Paints (@crownpaints) August 8, 2022
The advertising watchdog said that it was considering conducting an investigation after receiving dozens of complaints about the lyrics.
Comedian Jenny Eclair called for the advert, which she said “belonged in the 90s”, to be taken off air over the implication that a woman “conned a man into fatherhood”.
She said on Twitter:
Hey @crownpaints get that offensive baby ad off air - what were you thinking !!!? What on earth possessed you?
— Jenny Eclair (@jennyeclair) August 10, 2022
Continuing, Eclair said Crown Paints had “basically … set up a scenario that implies a woman has possibly conned a man into fatherhood”.
Jane Cunningham, co-founder of PLH Research, the UK’s leading research agency specialising in female audiences, told The Telegraph that the advert “fails the empathy test”.
She said: “The line about the male character ‘wondering if it’s his’ feels out of keeping with the rest of the ad – definitely a touch of the 1970s sitcom about it – which undermines any chance of the rest of the commercial being interpreted as a modern representation of couples and how they behave around decisions to conceive or not.
“It fails the empathy test here – just doesn’t ring true at all that this is what would be on his mind … certainly not based on the rest of the commercial.”
Ms Cunningham, also co-author of Brandsplaining: Why Marketing is Still Sexist and How to Fix It, added that the advert’s “narrative is pretty cliched but it could be worse”.
‘Absolutely disgraceful advert’
On Twitter, people accused the company of releasing an advert that was “demeaning”, “offensive” and “misogynistic”.
One person wrote: “Absolutely disgraceful advert casting Hannah as a woman who sleeps around,” while another added they will be “sticking with Dulux” paint from now on.
A spokesman for Crown Paints said the three-part series of adverts were “intended to be a humorous celebration of special life moments that prompt people to paint their homes, in this case focusing on Hannah and Dave, a happy couple expecting a baby together”.
“Whilst the ad has been broadly well-received, we appreciate that people have differing views on humour and we apologise if any of the lyrics have caused offence,” they added.
The Advertising Standards Agency said it had received 58 complaints about the advert and was “currently assessing [them] carefully to determine whether there are grounds for an investigation”.