JML cleaning advert banned for gender stereotype

JML must remove a three-minute TV advert for its Hurricane Spin Scrubber, which presents a harmful gender stereotype.

Rubber gloves cleaning surface

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld a complaint about an advert for the Hurricane Spin Scrubber, which implied that only women cleaned or were interested in cleaning products.

The advert promoted the cleaning product with several close-up shots of the Spin Scrubber in action, while a male voiceover explains its features. Four women also gave testimonials of their experience using the device. Two women described cleaning up after other members of their family; another described giving the product to her elderly mother as a gift; and the final woman expressed her previous embarrassment at having visitors see her imperfectly cleaned home.

The product’s manufacturer, JML, defended the advert’s focus on the functionality and versatility of the product around the home. The company emphasised that most shots featured the product through close-ups, which revealed only body parts, such as hands or torsos, and that they could not be gendered. The advert also used two shots of men, not exclusively women. One clip of a man’s hand; another of a man cleaning patio furniture. JML insisted there was no suggestion that men could not use the cleaning product.

JML admitted that the four testimonials in the advert did present only women in the cleaning role. However, the company argued that the testimonials described cleaning problems relatable to everyone. They believed the ad did not depict anyone in a harmful way.

ASA ruled that the advert did in fact present a gender stereotype, because women were overwhelmingly portrayed as the primary household cleaners. It found insufficient presentation of men cleaning, for example, the first shot of a man’s hand was hard to identify as male. Likewise, the second shot of a man cleaning outside was brief and inset into a small area of the screen. This clip only showed someone from the waist to the knees, so was also difficult to discern as a man.

ASA considered the four testimonials of women to perpetuate the stereotype that it was a woman’s responsibility to take pride in the cleanliness of their home.

It stated: “The ad, therefore, contained a number of explicit references to cleaning up after other people and implied feelings of shame at other people seeing an unclean home. There was no implication that the men briefly featured in the ad would share such responsibilities or feelings.”

In conclusion, ASA banned the advert in its current form.

It added: “Although the Guidance did not prohibit ads from featuring only one gender, we considered that the ad suggested that the stereotypically female role of cleaning the home was uniquely associated with women. We concluded the ad therefore presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.”

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