Can men learn something about women by watching them dump a sponge mop for a Swiffer in TV commercials? The Swiffer commercials feature popular songs and very short relationship scenarios, with the sponge mop serenading the savvy housewife with songs of romance.
Can men learn something about women by watching them dump a sponge mop for a Swiffer in TV commercials? The Swiffer commercials feature popular songs and very short relationship scenarios, with the sponge mop serenading the savvy housewife with songs of romance. But the pleas are no use, and ultimately result in rejection. Who would want a lowly sponge when you can have a Swiffer?
Love is certainly the theme, with tunes like “Baby Come Back,” by Player, “Love Stinks,” by J. Geils Band, and even a counseling session showing the critical relationship that women have with their cleaning products. It seems that women either understand the connection between romance and cleaning, or are willing to put up with the humor of these skits. Men are there, but only as the no good lover. What is surprising is the degree to which the Swiffer commercial, “Love Stinks,” uses cleaning as something that is romantic or an object of fantasy. The woman uses her Swiffer broom in her kitchen, while the sponge mop is in bed declaring - “Love Stinks." Perhaps the sponge mop deserves to be dumped for staying in bed while the more industrious partner is busy cleaning. “Baby Come Back” is sung by a mop in a backyard hot tub in another commercial.
The “Baby Come Back,” lyrics are: "Baby come back / You can blame it all on me / I was wrong / And I just can't live without you.” Another sponge sends flowers and candy to a housewife who has switched to a Swiffer product.
The series of Swiffer commercials have been running in TV spots targeted for women for a few years, which means that they are on target with female consumers. In 2007, Procter & Gamble spent nearly $200 million on advertising on the Swiffer product 30 second ads, according to BrandWeek. Evidently women will forever be associated in the mind of the brand marketers mind with household cleaning products. When it comes to cleaning one’s home environment, there seems to be no equality of the sexes. It’s not something that seems to bother them. A recent section in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Jan. 9, 2010) in the Lifestyle section, features a layout of three women in battle gear, dressed as grime fighters. The article is titled, “Cleaning products we love: When you can’t hire a maid, try these little wonders.” The author of the article, Aisha Sultan, says “many of us are stuck doing the grunt work ourselves . . . " “When it’s cold outside, you may as well cuddle up with some Clorox,” she writes to her cleaning female buddies.
It’s a strange admission. It also may be an honest one - that men will probably never care more about cleaning their homes than women. When it’s cold outside, men ordinarily don’t think about cleaning or a bottle of Clorox. The article is a striking depiction of how women are different than men. For men, the goal is usually to find something – any kind of tool or product that is speedy, powerful and can successfully get the job done. Not so with women. Women evidently form a different kind of bond with their products. The Swiffer commercials are not the first time men have been used to hawk cleaning products. Mr. Clean, a rather fit bald man on the bottle of Clorox has been featured for more than 50 years by Proctor and Gamble, and the Brawny towel man might be a perfect fit for a lumber jack Reality TV show. Should men look beyond the commercial to find something instructive that can help them in relationships? The answers are not obvious for men. Men could conclude that what women want to build the relationship is for him to purchase sophisticated Swiffer cleaning supplies for her. This could have disastrous consequences.
Will the woman who uses a Swiffer have a better relationship with her mate? Not necessarily. This is where it is challenging to understand how women think. The men in the commercials are actually being dumped. One key could be that women may enjoy a secret life about things around them that includes their cleaning products. It's a life that they may not readily share with men for various reasons. Perhaps men will one day understand how women think by pondering a cleaning product commercial. But it's more likely that we will attempt to sing more love songs to women, hopefully with better results.
© 2010 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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