Swiffer has a whole line of commercials featuring women breaking up with their old mops and brooms to hook up with Swiffer, or the rejected cleaning tools sending flowers in an attempt to woo back their former owners. All the commercials frame women’s relationships with cleaning tools like relationships with boyfriends who are/aren’t meeting their needs. Some of them have involved the woman and the mop in couples therapy, too.
Before you ask, yes, early on there was a commercial featuring a man trading in his old cleaning tools for Swiffer. But had he been dating his tools? Oh, no. No, they were his team and he was their coach. They weren’t cutting it, so he was trading them for better players. One other less problematic version of the commercial didn’t run long: a woman firing an employee who wasn’t working out, with the employee of course turning out to be an old broom. But it’s the woman-dumping-mop version of the commercial that’s clearly won out.
It’s hard to know where to start on what’s wrong here.
For one thing, Swiffer seems to have begun the campaign with the idea that men associate loyalty with teammates and women mostly associate it with the men in their lives – we females aren’t team players, you know; we’re cat fighting backstabbers! Mrowr! Then they’ve dumped the idea that there’s any point selling the product to men (yep, on this rare occasion someone realizes women are a valuable market, it’s cleaning products they’re trying to sell us), and dumped the idea that the women who buy their products can relate to a female boss. They’re also implying women have a pretty intense relationship with our cleaning tools, one that involves loving, fighting, jealousy, feeling ecstatic, feeling let-down and finally needing to move on and let go of something you once had a lot invested in.
It’s a mop, people. Believe me, women have been trading in old cleaning tools for better ones for, um… how long have cleaning tools existed?
Maybe if the commercials were actually funny, I’d feel more inclined to cut them slack. They’re not. It’s just patronizing as hell to suggest we women are married to our cleaning tools.