“I wish women were more like Pot Noodles”

// 23 April 2008

How do you even chose the most offensive and misogynist moment in this ad for instant noodles? (The line “Farewell to guilt trips, nagging and random tantrums”, accompanied by a woman slapping a man, competes with “If she lived in a cupboard, things wouldn’t be so tough”).

On Brand Republic:

Cheryl Calverley, brand manager at Pot Noodle, said: “We are really excited about this new, youth-focused strategy, which represents a move back towards Pot Noodle’s traditional target audience.”

H/T to Amity.

Comments From You

Ellie // Posted 23 April 2008 at 1:10 am

I saw this and just sat there in shock. Then I thought there would almost certainly be a post here about it which at least reassured me that I wouldn’t be alone in being entirely disgusted. The cupboard line really bugged me: like, just shove us away when we’re not wanted for sex or housework. Grrrr.

Betsy // Posted 23 April 2008 at 2:06 am

I would find it a whole lot less offensive if they made a similar ad for ‘bombay bad boy’ flavour, but with a woman singing an equally offensive song.

Danielle // Posted 23 April 2008 at 2:09 am

So I guess “girls” don’t eat Pot Noodles then?

But of course, as pointed out in a post earlier today, women are supposedly domestic godesses, and wouldn’t be caught dead eating such slobby food.

I’m actually find it hard to muster any outrage for this kind of stuff any more. I know it’s incredibly misogynistic, but I’ve been exposed to such adverts and assumptions and “jokes” so much that I’ve just become used to it. A sad state of affairs to be in.

Amity // Posted 23 April 2008 at 7:31 am

It’s almost unbelievable, isn’t it? I rarely get so offended that I make an effort to complain to a company but in this instance I most certainly am. I’ll post details of where to send complaints as soon as I find it.

Amity // Posted 23 April 2008 at 8:00 am

I just filed an official complaint with the ASA. I encourage others to do the same. The online complaint form is here http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/how_to_complain/complaints_form/

I will also be phoning Unilever (the maker of Pot Noodle) when their offices open. I’ll keep you updated.

sian // Posted 23 April 2008 at 8:44 am

thank you for posting on this – i saw it last night and jaw.hit.floor.

mia // Posted 23 April 2008 at 9:17 am

It is certainly offensive, but my god, what is the point of the ad? To show stupid men? To be completely absurd and without a message? It tries too, too hard to be quirky and darkly whimsical. Lame.

Sarah // Posted 23 April 2008 at 10:19 am

What’s that quote – something like ‘feminism is the radical notion that women are people’? Looks like feminism is absolutely still needed, though it’s discouraging to think that we still need to point out ‘women are people’.

I see Betsy’s point, but I’m not sure I’d feel much better if there was an ‘equivalent’ ad about men, for one thing it would not actually be equivalent at all, because the context is different – man and woman are not equivalent roles in society, so you can’t just switch them and say it is the same – also I would prefer we just didn’t do this sort of thing at all, stereotyping and dehumanising people because of their gender.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 23 April 2008 at 11:26 am

Yes the misogyny increases and because we are saturated with this it becomes normal and ‘acceptable.’ I will be writing to ASA but I have no doubt they will claim this advertisement is ‘edgy/funny/aimed at young people etc. etc.’ Anything but the fact this advertisement once again reduces women to men’s sexualised commodities. Ah that old but still very appropriate feminist phrase ‘women are human too – live with it!’ It is so relevant but hey misogyny does not exist it is just in feminists’ minds! I wish.

Jess McCabe // Posted 23 April 2008 at 11:29 am

I know what you mean, Jennifer. It’s still worth writing into the ASA (that’s what it’s there for, after all!), but they seem to take a very strange view of what is and what is not breaking their own rules.

Smart Blonde // Posted 23 April 2008 at 11:31 am

I’ve just complained to the ASA also. Here are come extracts I quoted from their code for TV ads:

Section 6.6 of the TV code “Harmful or negative stereotypes”

“Advertisements must not prejudice respect for human dignity or humiliate, stigmatise or undermine the standing of identifiable groups of people”

“Anything which could encourage or condone the idea that some serious negative characteristic is associated with a particular group must be avoided.”

Also, aside from it being hugely sexist, that advert is just plain rubbish. I’m very disappointed with the people at Pot Noodle.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 23 April 2008 at 11:47 am

I saw this last night.

I was not especially surprised though because Pot Noodle have another advert out at the moment:


In that one they took an idea that is really quite funny, but then ruined it with the half-naked women dancing in the background (women would never eat a pot noodle lest they ruin their figure!!!!!).

Talk about alienating half the audience…

Pete // Posted 23 April 2008 at 12:10 pm

Great points, Smart Blond. I’d be really interested to hear how the ASA respond given that this advert is clearly in breach of their code.

I saw this advert for the first time last night (during the football – presumably part of Pot Noodle’s efforts to reach its “traditional target audience” because we all know the only people that watch football are ‘lads’) and my first reaction was utter disbelief. My second was to text my girlfriend and say: “The F-Word are going to have a field day with the ‘I wish that girls were more like Pot Noodle’ advert.”

Leigh Woosey // Posted 23 April 2008 at 12:52 pm

Well. No more pot noodles for me, then.

I need to set up somekind of Boycottblog wher I list all the things I won’t do or buy due to behaviour like this. It would be great if there was an automated one that emailed marketing managers monthly to let them know who is boycotting them and what reasons have been blogged. Does such a thing exist? If not I need a Code Monkey, stat!

Amity // Posted 23 April 2008 at 1:03 pm

In addition to filing a complaint with the ASA, I’ve left a message for whoever is in charge of the Pot Noodle marketing account at Unilever. I didn’t catch the name on the voicemail I got but if anyone else would like to phone and leave a message voicing their displeasure at this advert, the number is 01293 648 000.

Smart Blonde // Posted 23 April 2008 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Pete, if I get a response I’ll post it for you to see. I have a feeling they wont see a problem with the advert though, as Jennifer pointed out. This stuff is so common lots of people consider it normal and therefore acceptable. Fingers crossed they’ll proove us wrong though!

Helen // Posted 23 April 2008 at 2:31 pm

I complained to ASA too. I fully expect a classic “we’re sorry you’re so over-sensitive” reply.

Susannaaaa // Posted 23 April 2008 at 2:38 pm

Urgh. Talk about unpleasant.

Christ, that’s Jarred Christmas in the ad. I’ve seen him twice in a row at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Well, never again. How disappointing.

Victoria Duxbury-Jackman // Posted 23 April 2008 at 2:43 pm

This is disgusting. The fact that the guy in the ad says “girls” rather than “women” makes it all the more offensive, not to mention creepy. Sadly lots of WOMEN will simply laugh this off as just a bit of fun – I know my mum and sister would. Other people may not be so amused but will think it is insignificant and harmless. This kind of blatant sexism will never be harmless or acceptable because it adds to the cumulative effect of all the other chauvinistic crap we’re expeceted to put up with on a daily basis that reaffirms to misogynistic pigs that women are fundamentally inferior. If sexism or sexual imagery is needed to sell a product then the product must be lacking something. I won’t be slobbing out in front of the telly with a Pot Noodle ever again.

chem_fem // Posted 23 April 2008 at 3:25 pm

Oh, please do set up a boycott blog. That would be great!

I don’t eat pot noodles but I’ll do more to boycott Unilever.

Cara // Posted 23 April 2008 at 5:46 pm

I have also complained to the ASA.

Yes, I have had not-so-good replies from them in the past too.

One said that stereotypes are not a problem…as Smart Blonde rightly quoted above, that is against their own policy.

And I love the boycott blog idea…yay…haven’t eaten Pot Noodles since I was a student, but will make sure I don’t eat any of their other products.

A different Helen // Posted 23 April 2008 at 7:21 pm

Unilever are the company that make Dove and Lynx too, with Dove making a big thing of its “real beauty” campaign, whilst at the same time selling Lynx to men with the usual scantily clad busty blondes.

I dont eat Pot Noodles either but I’m sure I can find another Unilever product to boycott ….

E-Visible Woman // Posted 23 April 2008 at 7:25 pm

I had a Pot Noodle the other day, actually, when I forgot my lunch.

It was AWFUL.

My instant noodles recommendations are

-Koka curry flavour (cheap & tasty – excellent comfort food)

-Blue Dragon Spicy Thai noodle wok (you get LOADS of veg, and it’s really spicy and delicious)

I like to add a bit of vegetable boullion and pepper to my instant noodles as well, to make them super tasty.

Northern Jess // Posted 24 April 2008 at 4:10 pm

Unilever make Dove ‘promoting natural beauty’ lynx, well I think we all know that one, and also a brand of skin-lightening cream targetted at Asian and Black women. They sell it at my local chemist. Is there a website which lists all products made by certain companies? Cross checking their advertising campaigns often hightlights many hypocrasys.(sp) This is the nature of big business though. Anything to keep pushing the product.

Helen // Posted 24 April 2008 at 4:27 pm

I also complained to Pot Noodle… so far i’ve had two apologies

Jorma // Posted 24 April 2008 at 8:54 pm

This advert is appalling.But do you know the funniest thing about this whole unilever thing?My boss’ wife is qutie high up in the unilever chain!perhaps I could use this to my advantage.lol

Sarah // Posted 25 April 2008 at 2:44 pm

I was so disgusted by this advert, it was appalling and I know that many women will just laugh it off and let men think that this it totally acceptable.

They say their target audience is young men, I find it depressing to know that young men will be brought up thinking that this is ok and that we will still being living in a world where women are thought to be ‘lower than men’.

All of the Pot Noddle adverts have been sexually orientated, you would think that they have been warned before about this problem.

Eileen Maitland // Posted 1 May 2008 at 7:52 pm

I complained about this ad to ASA yesterday, but having read their adjudication on the Rustlers ad last year, I’m not holding my breath. The casual and dismissive attitude they seem to have towards blatantly sexist and demeaning material is appalling; it may be that, independently of protests such as the Pot Noodle one, we should be targeting ASA directly with a few home truths about the misogyny they have so far refused to confront.

Melissa // Posted 5 May 2008 at 6:12 am

Sadly I found it hard not to laugh when viewing this advertisement and had I seen it on tv before reading about it on this site chances are I would have laughed out loud been slightly annoyed at the portrayal of woman and then not thought about it again. I totally agree with everyone’s points on this site though and will hopefully remember it is not ok for women to be portrayed this way. I think that it would be quite funny to see how the guy in the ad actually liked it if woman actually turned into pot noodles, probably not very much. Of course I don’t to be turned into pot noodles as according to E-visible woman they taste awful.

Val Moore // Posted 5 May 2008 at 7:32 pm

I have not seen this pot noodle ad. However I have complained to ASA sometime ago re. a lynx ad that featured a young womans nipples erecting(is that the right word?!) at the aroma of aftershave. Got the bog standard reply ‘sorry you are affended’ etc. This response was from a man. Is it worth complaining?

Smart Blonde // Posted 7 May 2008 at 9:32 am

I got my reply from the ASA yesterday…

Predictably it was the standard “we’re sorry you have no sense of humour” mixed with “sexism is generally accepted everywhere so we wont be doing anything about it this time either”. It was signed by a woman. Sigh.

When I get a moment I’m going to reply to her, for what it’s worth. These kind of adverts need addressing more generally, as Eileen said. All the previous examples that were let through give the ASA an excuse to shrug off the current ones.

Elizabeth // Posted 13 May 2008 at 1:16 am

I’m reading this at work so havent had time to read all the comments yet so apologise if I repeat something already said. Why is are all the men in this ad ugly and pasty while the woman (made out to be representative of all women as she is “women”) yet again looks like a supermodel? Honestly, I’ve got an ulcer where this rage hits me again and again about the double standard and CONSTANT message to men: “YOU are ok whatever you are, dorky, ugly, old, bad body, unsexy baggy and unrevealing clothes, while SHE/THEY will always look like hot supermodels in skin tight, revealing clothing. I feel like Im living in a teenage boys bedroom, not a world where EVERYONE is ok and championed for their ordinariness, NOT JUST MEN. My answer to people who say “sorry you havent got a sense of humour” would be “I have got an EXTREMELY witty sense of humour THANKYOUVERYMUCH, but unfortunately because of a complete satuaration of the same negative messages about women and only positive, self affirming messages aimed men, my humour has been sapped away. Someone said and I totally agree: If there were equal numbers of ads the other way round I wouldnt mind NEARLY so much and it may become something that is funny rather than offensive, tiresome and BORING in the extreme

Cara // Posted 13 May 2008 at 12:10 pm

SmartBlonde – Yeah, I got that reply too.


It said “a very small number of people complained” – well there were several right here – ASA have banned ads after just a few people complained before, and furthermore their policy is not supposed to be based on how many people complain!

Also said the ad was “unlikely to cause widespread offence” – translation: “stop being so oversensitive”. Grrr.

Still reeling at the response that said “stereotypes are fine”!

Dennis // Posted 15 May 2008 at 11:26 pm

less typing, more cooking

Pete // Posted 7 July 2008 at 12:54 am

The ‘I wish that girls were more like Pot Noodle’ ad is back! I saw it this very evening. AARRGH!

Amy // Posted 7 July 2008 at 11:40 am

It’s back all right – I saw it the other night on E4 (I suppose that’s what their ‘target’ audience watches). Disgusting. I’ll complain too – if enough people do it maybe they’ll take note.

Emily // Posted 25 July 2008 at 12:19 am

It normally makes me laugh at how pathetic adverts are getting but I literally sat there in shock as it played tonight, truly appalled by the sheer offensive material in it!!!

I filed a complaint instantly and told them how offensive and upsetting the advert was. It is truly appalling the views the media are trying to send out to the younger generations and I honestly feel desperately sorry for the boys that are given the idea that it is all right to think that if GIRLS (not women, bloody cheek!) came in a plastic pot it would be ”Farewell to guilt trips, nagging and random tantrums”

We may nag, make you feel guilty and have a few odd emotional moments and its probably because you damn well deserve it but at least we have our priority’s straight and DONT want girls in a fatty non healthy goo!!!!

Kath // Posted 25 July 2008 at 9:47 am

Reminds me of those Rustlers ads:


Laurel Dearing // Posted 25 July 2008 at 11:51 am

saw it again too! its quite audacious to pull an advert that deserves to be pulled and then wait a while and bring it back again. maybe we will have got over it by now? psh! what a pain.

Cara // Posted 5 August 2008 at 11:08 pm


I just saw it!

It is indeed back!

*restrains self from putting fist through TV*.

Let’s hope the ASA give us more response than some stupid form letter this time!

If anyone wants to know what the letter said I can dig it out…but it was just basically “don’t be so oversensitive”…they didn’t actually bother taking it forward so there is no adjudication online.

MissPrism // Posted 27 October 2008 at 12:59 pm

This ad gave me the RAGE, and I’m off to find a list of Unilever products to stop buying.

(Does a ruling from the ASA come with any kind of fine or penalty attached? Or are they trying to provoke complaints so as to get a mention on the news if a complaint’s upheld?)

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