Against the Tide: When laundry detergents are attacked...
Considering the very nature of this column I am quite literally the poster boy for “reading too much into things.” Week in and out, I dissect ads that either strike my fancy in some personally involved way or that manage to annoy the living crap out of me. Truthfully, I can’t help myself, which suggests the bigger reason behind the whole AdFool column is one part personal therapy and two parts mercy as my significant other is long tired of daily tirades. It was her idea I share my thoughts with others. So, basically, blame her.
But even first acknowledging my own tics and issues could not prepare me for the incandescent outrage aimed at a couple of ads for Tide laundry detergent. Dubbed by some as “hard to decipher,” “intolerant,” “homophobic,” and even “troubling,” it was clear these ads were hot, hot, hot! Honestly, when I hear a build-up like that it’s a veritable siren call to view the offending material. Sort of like when they put a content warning in front of the movie on TV. You know it’s got to be good!
So, mindful of the risk involved, I took a deep breath - steeled my spine and nerve – and sat back, ready for the promised offenses to inspire my rage.
The first spot was simple in concept. A frilly, neatly pressed mom sits on her couch speaking to camera. Her young daughter, dressed in a camo-hoodie with cargo pants, plays on the floor just to one side of her. Mom speaks: “Well, we tried the whole pink thing. Nope. All she wants to wear is hoodies. Hoodies and cargo shorts - gettin’ dirty. Then she left some crayons in her pocket and they went through the wash. (mom smiles, wistfully). I thought all her clothes were ruined. (resigned) Enter Tide and Tide Booster. The stains are gone, so, it’s kind of too bad...sigh....another car garage honey? It’s beautiful.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but as a parent who has witnessed the wearing of a Dora dress no less than seventeen fun-filled days in a row is it truly so hard to believe that a mother might wish her daughter to choose a different style sometimes? Maybe look a little like mom every now and again? Perhaps the confusion is that the woman in the ad is playing a mother versus some politically correct finger-sniffer sworn to dutifully uphold whatever moronic gender-neutral claptrap is currently on-sale by our intellectual betters. No, we are told this ad is “a troubling cocktail of gender stereotypes that’s a bit hard to decipher.” Holy crap! How do you even function with a brain as poorly wired as that?
The other hideously offensive Tide spot shows a dad oiling a squeaky gate in his yard. At one point he looks up at the clothes on the line and sees a very short, white skirt hanging there. Dad looks at his hands (covered in oil), looks around quickly and then grabs the skirt and proceeds to wipe his hands with it. Dad then tosses the now stained skirt into the laundry basket like a rag. The situation is revealed for what it is when the man’s daughter shows her mom the stained skirt and asks her to clean it. Mom does, casting a look toward dad, knowing that he was to blame. The daughter returns, wearing her short skirt much to dad’s chagrin BECAUSE HE’S HER DAD WHO DOESN’T LIKE HIS DAUGHTER WEARING SHORT SKIRTS BECAUSE BOYS WILL LOOK AT HER. Is this really rocket science? Apparently so. David Gianatasio of AdWeek suggests the ad may have a “phallic” component due to dad snatching her skirt from the clothesline and “soiling” it. What does that even mean? Talk about an internet search history box you don’t want to see....
The only tin-foil hatted kooks I see obsessed with gender stereotypes are the pudding-mouthed pundits deriding these ads. Are they really so blinded by the cult of intense victimhood that PC devils lurk beneath every situation or slight? Honestly, give me a group of Bible-thumping Jesus lovers any day of the week. They’re far less annoying (and nowhere near as creepy) as this crop of crazy-eyed malcontents. Forget stains. I hope Tide finds a way to make them disappear.