Kohler Toilet Commercial

I’ve enjoyed most of the commercials in Kohler’s “Bold Look” ad campaign. It’s got to be difficult to market a product such as theirs in a way that’s interesting and captivating, so I give them kudos for the mostly successful manner of doing so. I might not be in the market for a new faucet or a toilet, but their ads catch my attention because they tell mini-stories.

Unfortunately, their latest  hasn’t left me with a positive impression. For those who can’t get the video to run, it’s a commercial for a toilet. A man leaves his home and sees a plumber’s van outside his neighbor’s house. The plumber is a very attractive woman, who’s wearing shorts** and has her sleeves rolled up (to expose as much skin as possible, and I don’t mean the stereotypical “plumber’s crack” kind of exposure). They make eye contact. She looks…sultry. He watches her go into his neighbors house, and then races back into his own, where he proceeds to start throwing insanely stupid things down his toilet. Nothing works. His toilet is too good. Toward the end of the ad, he’s pouring dog food down it when his wife appears and stares at him, puzzled.

The reason I find the story  this particular ad tells  rather bothersome is twofold: 1) it does no justice to the female plumber. She’s eye candy. She’s fantasy material, not a legitimate professional; and 2) it does no justice to the man (the MARRIED man, even), who turns into a slavering idiot ruled by his hormones, and will clearly do anything to get the female plumber into his house so he can ogle her up close. With his wife looking on, apparently.

My negative reaction to this spot was instant. Bad Kohler, no cookie.

**ETA: Egg on my face! Jo’s not wearing shorts, though she does still walk like she’s modelling instead of going on a plumbing housecall. That’ll teach me to write an article long after viewing the subject material.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    1) it does no justice to the female plumber. She’s eye candy. She’s fantasy material, not a legitimate professional

    The nearest genderflipped equivalent I can think of to this are the Diet Coke ads with the female office workers oggling the male window cleaner – but he is seen doing his job, and is dressed appropriately for it (I can’t imagine a plumber wearing shorts).

  2. says

    1) it does no justice to the female plumber. She’s eye candy. She’s fantasy material, not a legitimate professional;

    I’m not sure I see a problem with this; it isn’t suggested that she isn’t a good plumber or that she isn’t a legitimate professional. It’s just that that particular person is interested in her for reasons other than her plumbing expertise.

    The nearest genderflipped equivalent I can think of to this are the Diet Coke ads with the female office workers oggling the male window cleaner – but he is seen doing his job, and is dressed appropriately for it (I can’t imagine a plumber wearing shorts).

    Well, maybe it’s a hot day. But in a sense, she is doing her job in the ad; she is making a housecall. She just hasn’t gotten to the part where she uses her expertise yet. But going into the house is as much part of being a plumber as driving on a business trip is part of being a businessman.

    it does no justice to the man (the MARRIED man, even)

    Actually, this part bothered me. If this were a single guy, (particularly a lonely one) I could sympathize with his desire to get into contact with an attractive woman (I am assuming that he isn’t planning to try anything with her more intimate than flirting). But for a married guy to be using subterfuge in order to get a chance to flirt with someone seems to me to be rather insensitive to his wife.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I can’t really add anything to SBG’s original post, but gah. Kohler’s adds used to be all elegance; this is just a lost episode of “Married with Children”, complete with Al’s toilet obsession.

  4. scarlett says

    I can’t imagine a plumber wearing shorts, even on a hot day. I work in a very dirty environment, and even on hot days I wear at least (lightweight) knee-length pants. I can’t imagine someone working a grubby job wearing shorts.

  5. sbg says

    The nearest genderflipped equivalent I can think of to this are the Diet Coke ads with the female office workers oggling the male window cleaner – but he is seen doing his job, and is dressed appropriately for it (I can’t imagine a plumber wearing shorts).

    I can’t remember – did they do something to make the guy give them a fantastic bit of eye candy, or was he just behaving normally and they merely happened to be in the right place at the right time?

    And the shorts thing? Yeah, there’s no way a plumber would wear them. It’s a messy job. *shudder*

  6. sbg says

    I’m not sure I see a problem with this; it isn’t suggested that she isn’t a good plumber or that she isn’t a legitimate professional. It’s just that that particular person is interested in her for reasons other than her plumbing expertise.

    It’s the fact that she’s walking around, back arched to accentuate her Daisy Duke wearing arse and giving the neighbor a sultry look as she’s making this housecall.

    Frankly, I even find it dumb that they gave her the name “Jo” instead of something obviously feminine. Like…Joanna or Josephine.

    Well, maybe it’s a hot day.

    Hot or not, would you really risk getting whatever nasty crap is in people’s pipes all over you. Arms and hands are much easier washed than legs.

    But for a married guy to be using subterfuge in order to get a chance to flirt with someone seems to me to be rather insensitive to his wife.

    I would have still thought the guy kind of a jerk if he were portrayed as unmarried, but I don’t know if I would have been quite as offended.

  7. sbg says

    I can’t imagine a plumber wearing shorts, even on a hot day. I work in a very dirty environment, and even on hot days I wear at least (lightweight) knee-length pants. I can’t imagine someone working a grubby job wearing shorts.

    Exactly. :)

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m not sure I see a problem with this; it isn’t suggested that she isn’t a good plumber or that she isn’t a legitimate professional. It’s just that that particular person is interested in her for reasons other than her plumbing expertise.

    Well, yeah it is suggested that she’s an idiot, because tThere’s a reason plumbers never do this, male or female, in any climate. Some of the stuff that can be in drains or pipes is quite damaging to the skin, as well as hard to wash off. Think Drano, which most people probably try before calling the plumber. That stuff’s practically corrosive.

    I’ve never seen a plumber in shorts or short sleeves.

    And: what SBG said about her accentuated posing and sultry looks. Also never seen a plumber of either gender do that.

    The suggestion that a character is stupid need not be in the text. When you see that woman on CSI who likes to dangle her 8 foot long loose hair all over the evidence, can you help but think she’s a moron? Even though you know it’s just the filmmakers taking creative license? Your brain still unconsciously recognizes that it’s looking at someone doing something remarkably stupid. You can’t turn that off.

  9. scarlett says

    >>

    If it’s the ad I’m thinking of, the yes, he was dressed/acting as you would expect of a window washer, he just happened to be insanely hot in front of a clar window and they happened to be in the right place at the right time.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think Scarlett’s right – I don’t recall the guy posing or strutting. They just had a nice view of his ass, which is all one needs for a good panting session. ;)

    Come to think of it, I’ve hung out at Hollywood clubs where wannabe actresses/groupies are hoping to meet celebs or agents who can get them work. Even there, I have never seen women strut ‘n’ pout like they do in so many commercials, films and shows. Those commercials, films and shows go so far beyond the male gaze (what men really see) that they enter the male fantasy-memory realm (how they remember it when they’re stroking off to it later). The meta-meta-message is: target audience doesn’t even want real women. Only the fantasy of real women.

  11. scarlett says

    < <>>

    Still struggling with hysterical laughter brought upon from the oxymoron of ‘fantasy’ and ‘real’.

    And for the record – I work in a warehouse, where the only thing I have to worry about is soaping off dust and grease. I can’t imagine a plumber working at anything less then knee-length pants, given what they deal with.

  12. sbg says

    Those commercials, films and shows go so far beyond the male gaze (what men really see) that they enter the male fantasy-memory realm (how they remember it when they’re stroking off to it later). The meta-meta-message is: target audience doesn’t even want real women. Only the fantasy of real women.

    I find the above equal parts funny and scary, just so you know.

  13. says

    I’ve only ever seen the end of this commercial; until I read your description, my impression was totally different. All I saw was the guy flushing stuff down the toilet, and then his girlfriend’s disapproving look. I assumed he was marveling over how much the toilet could take, and she thought he was an idiot for being so impressed by a toilet.

    You know, I think that might be a better ad in the end…

  14. SunlessNick says

    I can’t remember – did they do something to make the guy give them a fantastic bit of eye candy, or was he just behaving normally and they merely happened to be in the right place at the right time? - sbg

    In all the adds I see, he’s ascting normally – the closest he comes to posing is drinking Diet Coke with his head tilted back.

  15. Patrick says

    The add without Jo would have been awesome. And every time it would come on, I wouldn’t be able to resist saying “candles go down the HOOOOOOLE..” and such ad naseum.

  16. John says

    I think the commercial was effective in its message that you can’t clog this thing, in fact we are replacing 2 toilets in our home, just from seeing the add and will be purchasing Kohler. As far as the message, what ever happened to a sense of humor in our society?

  17. sbg says

    Personally, I flushed my sense of humor down a non-Kohler toilet.

    There’s nothing funny about a married man actively seeking to get his kicks from some hot young thing who’s not his wife.

  18. John says

    And how do you know it is his wife, no rings are shown. Do you always assume the worse? Could it be his girlfriend, sister, roommate, friend, etc….????

  19. MaggieCat says

    And how do you know it is his wife, no rings are shown. Do you always assume the worse? Could it be his girlfriend, sister, roommate, friend, etc….????

    The screencap is slightly blurry because it’s from YouTube and a very fast shot, but the man in question is definitely wearing a wedding ring, which makes it highly probable that the woman standing in the doorway is his wife.

    The commercial is here. You might want to check your facts.

  20. sbg says

    Maggie, will you marry me? ;)

    Seriously, though, thanks. I knew the guy was married…and even if the woman who catches him being stupid at the end isn’t his wife, though I can’t fathom who else we’re to believe it is, it’s still not funny behavior on his part.

  21. MaggieCat says

    Heh, you’re welcome. All hail HoverSnap. :-)

    I was just playing the odds. People see and note a thousand tiny details like that without even consciously recognizing they’re doing so (most psychologists will tell you that’s where ‘intuition’ really comes from) and since commercials have such a limited amount of time to convey their message they generally make the most of it. Married was the most logical setup for the (bad, unfunny) joke, and the easiest way to communicate that is a close up of his wedding ring.

    See, I knew all that time I spent yelling at cast members for saying details weren’t important would come in handy some day!

  22. Sam says

    Someone obviously missed the big, bold discussion guidelines link in the comment form. What a shock!

    Hey, let’s keep this in perspective. These Kohler commercials are more entertaining than most of the junk that is on TV. If they took away every program that deals with infidelity or some man “looking” at another woman we’d be left with a blank screen most of the time — or worse — only football, politicians and news commentators telling us what we should think. At least it is refreshing to see some creativity in the ads for products that are shoved our way all the time. Give Kohler a break — they’re trying to sell toilets!

  23. Gategrrl says

    Well, at least your click counts are going up, BetaCandy.

    The ironic thing to me is that male roaming is featured in a commercial for a product that takes waste products and flushes them into the sewer. That’s suitable commentary all by itself!

  24. Julia Wheat says

    Hello did any of your children see this commercial. Well my 2 year old son did and he now thinks it is great to flush things down the toilet. I guess the advertisers at Kohler do not have any children.

  25. Gategrrl says

    No, fortunately, my kids are too old for that! Although a few years ago, a neighbor’s kid did spend a few quiet minutes in our bathroom plugging up our toilet with toilet paper. I should have killed that child then and there. He was cute, but a lot of trouble.

    I’ve noticed a few commercials lately that show or insinuate a small child flushing something valuable down the toilet (like a watch, usually).

  26. Patrick says

    There was a wonderful Tiny Toon adventures short that featured infant Plucky Duck learning about the toilet. He displayed exactly the behavior Julia Wheat described.

    Not really on topic, except that despite its discussed flaws the Kohler commercial made me say “(Object) go down the hoooole” repeatedly.

  27. says

    This commercial should end with wife jamming the jackass husband down the toilet with only his feet sticking out, then the wife calling the female plumber over for a laugh.
    The finale’ would be a big slurping sound as the powerful Kohler sucks this unfaithful turd ball down completely.

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