Ad for cleaning device banned for suggesting ‘unique’ association with women

A TV commercial for a scrubbing device has been banned for suggesting that cleaning the house is a responsibility associated only with women.

The three-minute TV commercial for the JML Hurricane Spin Scrubber, seen in March, showed several women using the cleaning tool in the bathroom, kitchen and elsewhere in the home.

Four women described their experiences with the tool saying, “I have a very busy household. People are getting in and out of my shower all the time,” “I love using the extension cord to pull tub rings out…After my kids get out of the tub, there’s always a ring around it,” and “I gave this to my mom as a gift, and it changed the way she cleans. I don’t have to worry about her slipping and falling.”

The last woman described how she had previously been embarrassed to have people in her house because of lime deposits in the crevices which were difficult to clean but no longer worried after using the product, saying that she now “love (d) having people at her house come and inspect my kitchen and bathrooms”.

A male voiceover concluded, “To get your hands on the Hurricane Spin Scrubber and a sparkling clean home, call now or visit jmldirect.com.”

The complainant, who felt that the advertisement perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by portraying women in a stereotypically female role and implying that only women cleaned or were interested in cleaning products, challenged whether it violated the rules on of advertising.

John Mills Ltd, trading as JML, said the ad had been running since 2017, focused on product functionality and featured two shots of men.

The company said the ad did not suggest cleaning was only associated with women and there was no suggestion that a man was unable to undertake any of the tasks featured.

Advertising agency Clearcast said the ad did not at any point suggest cleaning was only associated with women.

Upholding the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that advertisements can feature people in stereotypical gender roles, such as showing women cleaning, but must be careful to avoid suggesting that the roles or stereotypical characteristics were always uniquely associated with a gender.

The ASA said the testimonies of the four women “contained a number of explicit references to cleaning up after other people and involved feelings of shame about other people seeing a dirty house”.

There was no implication that the men briefly featured in the ad would share any such responsibilities or feelings.

“We considered the cumulative effect of the four testimonies, the importance of people who cleaned easily identifiable as women and the lack of easily identifiable men, perpetuating the stereotype that it was a woman’s responsibility to be proud of the appearance and cleanliness of her home and cleaning up after others.

“It also perpetuated the idea that women should be judged on the cleanliness of their homes.”

The ASA ruled that the ad should no longer appear in its current form, adding: “We told JML to ensure that their ad does not portray gender stereotypes in a way that could cause harm, notably by suggesting that cleaning the house was a responsibility associated only with women.

Jai Whiting of JML said: “The Hurricane Spin Scrubber has been running as a 30-minute infomercial since 2017 and features a balanced representation of male and female actors. We recently changed this to fit a commercial slot. of three minutes and selected what seemed to be the best shots of the product used to adapt to the new period.

“It was not our intention to offend or imply stereotypes with the edit. We re-edited the film as soon as the gender imbalance was brought to our attention and a new film is already on the air. We have revised our internal processes to ensure that a more thorough review of re-released films takes place in the future.

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