One of Mr. Clean’s advertisements of 2011 brings up the issue of categorizing women in the role of being responsible for the household chores since early age. This advertisement appears in print and social media online ads. In it, a mother and a daughter appear to be cheerfully using Mr. Clean cleaning sponge. The following is an analysis based on the Mr. Clean advertisement and how it challenges gender stereotypes through the use of text, color, and people.
To start with, this Mr. Clean advertisement challenges society’s traditional gender expectations through the text employed. With the use of the phrase “This Mother’s Day, get back to the job that really matters.” it is really easy to spot that the message was intended for women. More precisely, mothers. It is making a connection between mothers and household cleaning activities. Linking the cleaning – “the job that really matters” to the holiday of Mother’s day makes this ad sexist. That is because it is making the association of cleaning and women’s housework, even during their holiday. This is how society portraits women, at home taking care of the house. They are expected to maintain good care of the home and of themselves. It is evident that the words used were intended to categorize women as the responsible ones for taking care of the house.
In addition, the use of the word “job” infers that a woman’s main priority should be to be a housewife. As a whole, women are expected to be clean and serve others. The creators of this ad seem to imply that for a mother, what should really matter is cleaning. Using the word “job” makes it look like women have no other choice but to clean and take care of the house. For instance, you would think that women would have a break from cleaning on Mother’s day. However, implying that cleaning is a job makes them not having a chance to spend their day relaxing and enjoying it.
Secondly, the choice of colors for this advertisement is categorizing women in the division of household labor by showing both females wearing white clothing. This color indicates purity, cleanliness, and innocence. Society’s expectations for women are to have a mentality and personality that revolves around purity, cleanliness, and innocence. The fact that they are wearing white implies that they care about their environment and want to keep it clean.
Also, the variation of color in the text seems to emphasize that the ad was designed for mothers. The words on the upper left corner “This Mother’s Day” have a purple color and the rest is written in blue. They stand out because they have a different color than the rest of the message. This tone of purple can be associated with calm and stable environments. Blue is associated with sensitivity. In the context of gender analysis, it is possible to conclude that women are being categorized as sensible, innocent, pure and calm.
Finally, this ad challenges society’s gender expectation by evoking the idea that women should be thinking about maintaining the household clean since a young age. This is evidently shown by having a mother and a daughter on the advertisement. According to society’s gender expectations, young women are expected to start showing interest in feminine characteristics and behaviors from early ages. That is, among other things, cleaning and serving others. The message implied that the young girl should learn how to clean is reinforced by the joyful faces of both females. It implies that they are both happy because they are cleaning; because they are using that product.
In the visual, the mother is teaching her daughter how to use Mr. Clean’s product with a cheerful facial expression. Rarely, men are displayed doing “the job that really matters.” According to William O’Barr, “When men are depicted in parental roles, they often appear as adult playmates, usually in sports or other outdoor contexts” (85). Society has an idea of patriarchal household in which women are supposed to make men happy by taking good care of the house. While men are responsible for getting the money to sustain the family’s needs. Despite this, the Mr. Clean advertisement targets mothers in an attempt to sell the product, by implying that women are supposed to be responsible for maintaining the house clean and socializing young girls into the gendered division of household labor.
The society we live in has this stereotypical mentality that women are the ones responsible for the household chores. In addition, young girls have to learn from their mothers how to clean and maintain the house in a good shape. Through the use of text, color and people, this advertisement promotes the idea that women belong in the house to fulfill their cleaning “job”.
O’Barr, William M. “Representations of Masculinity and Femininity in Advertisements.” Advertising & Society Review. 7.2 (2006): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb 2016. Rpt. In (Re)writing Communities and Identities. Ed. Cynthia Debes et al. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2014 68-92.