Swiffer Reaches Out To The Filthy, Lonely Ladies


Two women, both decked out to resemble filth, lie together on a floor.

“Yes, Dirt?”
“Do you think the two of us will ever find “The One?””
Swiffer asks the tough questions.

“Well,” says Mud, “we’ve been left behind by so many mops and brooms” — image of them being dumped to lie dejectedly on floor — “but we’ve got…each other.” she trails off as Dirt abandons her to cling to the bottom of a Swiffer to the strains of Heart’s “What About Love.”

But it’s okay: by the end, Mud is also clinging to the bottom of the Swiffer, cooing, “You’re quite the pick-up artist.”

It’s called “Dirt Loves Swiffer Sweeper TV Commercial – Nerd Girls” and it’s part of the handy-dandy gadget’s latest ad campaign. Now, for some time Swiffer’s been riffing on the “romance” theme: there was the mop rejected by the human woman; there were the mop’s attempts to win her back with flowers; there was the mop finding love with various other objects in the garage to “Who’s That Lady.” They were cute.

This is perhaps less cute, and it’s drawing criticism. Says one outraged Facebook user, “I do not appreciate being portrayed as Nerdy pieces of dirt who are desperate to be picked up!” Adds another,

Swiffer is portraying the dirt on the floor using women as the models for the dirt. The women are lying on the floor all dirty rolling around by the dirty old mop. I don’t like this image of women. Please change your commercial. This is derogatory to women.

A litany of “lighten up”-themed comments follow, of course, along with the point that there’s a similar ad featuring a dweeby male fleck of dust on a computer keyboard asking, “Will love ever find me?” For that matter, there’s also the ditsy snob Mud Girl who declares “I’m really hard to get,” before Swiffer sweeps her off her feet. Clearly, the campaign is trading in stereotypes and the concept is fairly uninspired.

And sure, all of these ads are just meant to be silly. But the women-as-sad-sacks, man-obsessed-mud shtick doesn’t really make you chuckle, does it? Not necessarily because it’s pearl-clutchingly offensive per se (they’re not calling women “dirt” any more than they’re calling nerdy dudes “dust”), but because the underlying joke is ladies’ obvious state of desperation, and that punchline is particularly stupid coming from a company that is ostensibly trying to market to, yes, some women. Oh, and then there’s the gratuitous image of a woman abandoning female friendship for the sake of a suitor (er, mop?), which plays on tired cliches in a way that’s, well, a little grimy. And tired. Did we mention tired? The overall concept feels more 1963 Sterling-Cooper than 2011 Kaplan Thaler Group.

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