This Australian ad for cookware is getting a little play on the Internet for its clever viral marketing effect. But then when you visit the product's website, you see very quickly what it's actually an advertisement for.
The show Mad Men.
The ad is considered a success because it's playing off the tone of old sexist ads, but the joke hinges on the notion that something has actually changed between then and now in the world of marketing domestic crapitude to women.
Ohhhhh, I get it. It's not sexist because it's a fake ad, a joke about how things used to be. And they're not like that anymore, and the show is set back during a time when that's exactly the sort of ad you'd see for cookware, and it's tongue-in-cheek, and we've come such a long way, baby, so it's like, funny now, right?
Except it's hardly any different than every other ad for cleaning and cooking products we still see. Maybe now the ads show that as women, we actually have jobs now too, or as mothers, we're also feeding our families so we're appropriately frazzled. Or they're set in modern, sleek kitchens with fancy appliances. But we're still playing the starring role in nearly every ad for all things domestic.
So like, before, you just showed women suffering the dreaded dishpan hands from washing all the dishes. But now that more women are in the workforce and outnumbering men in college, there's Dawn Hand Renewal dishwashing soap. It actually pampers those unsightly dishpan hands after just five uses.
You're still washing all the dishes, but now you have softer hands. I don't know about you folks, but I sure feel liberated! I'm probably missing the point: Maybe my hands are softer so that the handjob I'll give my husband after dinner will also no longer be as disappointing as that burnt steak and dry fish.
Before, you were just mopping that dirty old floor with a nasty old yarn mop. Now there's the sleek new Swiffer, and you can at least take comfort in the fact, one, you're wearing pants, and two, you're still sexy. That old mop just came-a-courtin'. It's going to try to win you back. Cougars rejoice.
I can never decide whether--like those Carl's Jr. ads I riffed on recently--these ads are clever because they target their true demographic, or if they're egregiously shirking the true magnitude of their power to improve/advance society by just showing a dude picking up the laundry every now and then. (It's kinda like how all those action flicks didn't have to show a black president, but they did, thus at least planting the seed that it was possible and acceptable.)
Sure, advertising is but one cog in the social advancement wheel, but it's a damn powerful one that constantly reflects images of America right back at us, and according to most of those ads, we're still living in a binary gender world. Or as this blog points out, Suzy Homemaker ain't dead. She just rewards herself with low-cal yogurt instead of low-cal Jell-O.
My husband cooks more than I do. His father cooks more than his mother. I've known tons of men who are great in the kitchen and are far more eager to find the coolest new 6-range gas grill, best stainless steel pots, most durable French press.
Would it be so awful to appeal to them in these ads, and by doing so show a slightly more accurate and far less retrograde version of the roles we as men and women truly inhabit these days?