Consumers are increasingly expecting brands to reflect their own wider values and principles, an expert believes.

According to Michael Brown, Insight Director at Universal McCann, people look to brands to behave as “moral guardians”.

Speaking at a Women in Ads event, he said this means they are under much more scrutiny than other platforms, particularly when it comes to challenging gender stereotypes.

As a result, Mr Brown believes brand communications are expected to help people “break free from the shackles of identity norms”.

“Humans are complex, so for communications to be truly relatable, we need to move away from tired pen portraits that can be written before we embark on a project,” he commented.

Recent research by Universal McCann revealed that 65 per cent of women appreciate it when stereotypes are challenged by brands using traditional media, along with 59 per cent of men.

The study also indicated that adverts can have a profound effect on a person’s view of themselves.

For instance, 49 per cent of women surveyed said they have felt pressure from adverts to be a certain way, while 44 per cent admitted adverts have previously made them feel like they are not good enough.

The Advertising Standards Authority recently confirmed that new standards on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics will be developed, administered and enforced.

According to the watchdog, a “tougher line is needed on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which can potentially cause harm, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes”.

Consumers urge brands to push the boundaries of gender stereotyping Campaign