A women's group has struck out at a change in advertising codes it says will lead to more sexist beer commercials on television.

The director of the Women's Health Action Trust said the Advertising Standards Authority had cut guidelines which prevented alcohol adverts from depicting "unduly masculine themes or portray unrealistic behaviour".

But the Advertising Standards Agency said a flood of alcohol advertisements which were derogatory towards women was very unlikely.

Following a review late last year of the Code for Advertising Liquor, the ASA removed the requirement that alcohol advertisements "shall not depict unduly masculine themes or portray unrealistic behaviour".


Director of Women's Health Action Trust, Maree Pierce, said they were "stunned" the ASA would chose to weaken its rules at a time when New Zealand communities "have made such a strong call for more rigorous control of alcohol advertising and its content".

"Plenty of evidence has shown how beer advertising, both in New Zealand and abroad, draws heavily on stereotypical masculine themes and routinely portrays sexist, derogatory and degrading behaviour by men, towards women, as part of beer drinking culture and lifestyle.

"The Tui beer advertisements are a good example - these kinds of representations are a barrier to gender equality and perpetuate concerning attitudes about women.

"That such attitudes are routinely portrayed to sell a product that we know is implicated in violence towards women, and that the ASA has now lowered the threshold around such advertising, is of huge concern."

However, Advertising Standards Agency chief executive Hilary Souter said she was confident the removal of the requirement would not result in a flood of sexist commercials.

The requirement for alcohol advertisements not to depict "unduly masculine themes" was not a significant area of complaint and the language was quite dated.

"Because those words have been taken out, I don't think you'll see a significant change in advertising all of a sudden becoming more 'blokey'," Mrs Souter said.

Any discrimination or degradation toward an individual or group was still covered by the Code for People in Advertising, she said.


But Ms Pierce said it was important that the "shall not depict unduly masculine" requirement was reinstated because it was mostly beer advertisements which idealised masculinity.