Ad description

A radio ad for Toyota, heard on 25 July 2022, 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 plc t/a Toyota 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 the comedian, Lauren Pattison. She was chosen so that she would be associated with the comical character she was playing. The masculine voice was spoken by Toyota’s brand voice that had been used for two years.

They used a feminine and masculine voice to ensure listeners could differentiate between the two characters in the ad. They said this was a well-established practice regularly used in radio ads as they are limited to sound, and visual aids could not assist. They therefore believed it was not unreasonable to have used a feminine voice to contrast the brand voice, which happened to be a masculine voice.

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

The ad was part of the Hello Hybrid Happiness campaign that also included a TV ad. The TV ad similarly showed a silly, fictional hybrid vehicle and then compared it to the Toyota C-HR. It included the same voice-over that stated, “Not all hybrids are born equal. Toyota C-HR Self Charging Hybrid. Hello hybrid happiness.” However, in the TV ad it was a male actor in the “silly” hybrid vehicle character. They believed this demonstrated that there was no gender discrimination in the campaign, and that the radio voices were chosen so that there was a clear contrast between the characters so that listeners could easily differentiate between them.

Radiocentre said that the end line in the ad was a long-standing slogan. The ad was one of a series of creative treatments and the overall tone and style were not mocking.


Not upheld

The BCAP Code stated that ads must not include gender stereotypes that were likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. Joint CAP and BCAP guidance said that gender-stereotypical characteristics included attributes or behaviours usually associated with a specific gender. The guidance stated that ads that directly contrasted male and female stereotypical roles or characteristics needed to be handled with care. It further stated that ads may feature people displaying gender-stereotypical characteristics, but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were: always uniquely associated with one gender; the only options available to one gender; or never carried out or displayed by another gender.

The ASA considered the scenario presented in the ad, which we considered listeners would understand featured a woman and a man. It began by featuring the woman sharing her fantastical idea of what a hybrid car was. This was then followed by the man talking knowledgably about the advertised hybrid car.

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.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule  4.14 4.14 Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
See Advertising Guidance: “Depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence
 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


No further action required.



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