No Method to my Madness!

*EDIT: Due to the overwhelming response from the blog community expressing their outrage over the commercial, Method has since taken the “Shiny Suds” commercial down.*

Method

Once again, we are pleased to feature a guest blog post from Rebekah Nathan!

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to find eco-friendly cleaning products to use in my home. The chemicals that are used in most generic cleaners are a concern for a lot of us, and if you’re not up for making your own natural cleaners, then you’re left with the task of browsing the aisles trying to find the earth friendly products amongst the vast array of cleaning products vying for you attention.

Method Home Products is a company that claims to be both environmentally friendly and free of nasty chemicals. Perfect! However, when I saw the recent TV ad/PSA they have put out, I was left completely shocked and speechless. Treehugger called it ‘disturbingly funny’, but I’d argue that it is just flat out disturbing.

Melissa over at Shakesville has both the video and the transcript if you’d prefer to read it rather than watching, but please note that it comes with a trigger warning. Basically the ad shows a woman about to jump in the shower, when she finds a group of cartoon ‘Shiny Suds’ racing around her tub, left over from her previously usage of a generic and chemical filled cleaner. She is visibly shocked to see them there but they remind her that she had sprayed them there in the first place (read: it is her doing, her fault) and instruct her to get into the tub, one even calling out ‘Scrubsy-dubsy, baby’. The woman continues with her shower, all the while having to listen to the group of suds (which interestingly enough all have male voices) harass her with calls of ‘You know you want it!’, ‘Woo! Yeah!’, ‘Use the loofah!’, when they’re not staring with cartoon mouths agape and panting. Throughout the ad the woman looks frightened and worried, and is trying to clean herself while doing her best to cover her body from the eyes of the Shiny Suds. The ad finishes with the text ‘You deserve to know what chemicals are in your cleaners. Support the Household Product Labeling Acts.’

Obviously the point of this ad is that we need to be aware that chemicals left over from generic cleaners are nasty, nasty things. However, to reenact a scene of sexual harassment, and in a humorous way at that, is not only offensive and triggering, but also trivializes something that is very, very serious and real for a lot of women. Statistics show that in Canada, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted, and that 87% of women report having experienced sexual harassment .

Not only is sexual harassment something that is real, but to show a woman being harassed and scared in a joking manner in order to sell a cleaning product, gives us a disturbing insight into how women are viewed and valued (or not) in society. Finally, by the Shiny Suds reminding her that she had left them there in the first place and effectively set herself up for the harassment, hints at rape apologism and the idea that women are often ‘asking for’ the unwanted attention they receive by the way they dress, walking alone at night or daring to be sexually independent. Whether this was intentional or not, this all paints a pretty disturbing and depressing picture.

If you want to express your outrage over this ad, you could do so by commenting on the Treehugger post here that celebrates the ad. Alternatively, you can contact Method directly via;

Method Public Relations + Events
Katie Molinari katie@methodhome.com
Rachel Goldberg rachel@methodhome.com

Method Advertising
Henry Yu henry@methodhome.com
Method Social Media
Twitter: https://twitter.com/methodtweet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/method

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  • It’s amazing how things are viewed from different perspectives. When I watched the video I wasn’t insulted at all and thought it was quite well done and humorous.

    As I read your review above realized how I might need more diversity and sexual harassment training as yes, this could be viewed as offensive. I think I’m a pretty aware individual so I’m a bit shocked with myself for not picking up on this perspective.

    I wonder if people would have reacted differently if the sud’s called out in a woman’s voice? Would that have made a difference?

    I’ve met and worked with people at Method and have found them progressive, innovative and savvy, and don’t think in any way they intended to offend anyone with this ad.

  • I’m so glad this wont be on the TV. I saw the you tube video and wish I hadn’t. I’m all freaked out now. I think what bothers me the most though is it’s wasn’t just one sick freak who thought this was a good idea. Dozens of people were involved with this! I really hope the orignal “visionary” was removed from his position.

    I’m worried for the future, this isn’t the first time I’ve been scared or offended by advervetising. I can’t imagine it’ll be the last. I wonder how long it’ll be before I can’t turn on the TV or flip open a magazine anymore.

    An advert shouldn’t put someone back in therapy, what were they thinking!

  • Kasha

    I’m apathetic, I don’t mean to be but it’s not shown here in the UK so it’s not something I have to see – and I think I’d be anything but apathetic in that case. Here we tend to have a LOT of adverts that are sexist towards men rather than women – sexual harassment and generally making out men are idiots. It gets annoying that there is this sort of action when it’s women, often with adverts that aren’t offensive, but so few will stand up for men’s portrayal in advertisements. Nothing about this is aimed at this, but I have a general frustration aimed towards so-called feminists and towards the media who think this sort of thing (whether aimed at men or women) is acceptable.

  • First of all, thanks for your comments!

    Saul – Thanks for your thoughts! It was interesting to your reflections on your initial reaction. Personally, because I imagined that Method and those who work there are fairly progressive people, it made me all the more disappointed in the ad. I’m sure they didn’t intend to offend, but joking about sexual harassment and/or the objectification of women isn’t uncommon and I think is unfortunately a symptom of the ‘rape culture’ that we live in (for some 101 on rape cultute see here https://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html). In terms of the gender of the suds, sexual harassment isn’t acceptable no matter who is being objectified or doing the objectification, but I don’t think the ‘joke’ would have worked had it been done differently. Whoever came up with the concept was playing on the idea that chemicals = bad, and sexual harassers = also bad (but also kinda funny and useful to make a point/sell products).

    koolchicken – Thank you so much for your comment, I’m sorry that it was troubling for you to watch. I’m glad you shared your thoughts with us though, as I think it really illustrates the potential affect that this ad has on women who have experienced sexual assault. Like you, I’m also amazed that the concept made it so far, and was ok’d by so many to actually be made into an ad. That’s scary to me.

    Kasha – Thanks for your thoughts on the ad. I can’t speak for what happens in the UK, but I agree that sexual harassment towards both women and men is problematic and unacceptable. Not just that, but I think feminists and media critics should also call out ads that are sexist and promote reductive gender stereotypes.

  • I had seen the video earlier and promptly wrote to their customer service email. The video really upset me, and I certainly wouldn’t want our 11 year old daughter thinking its ok for people to talk to her like this either. The woman was naked and unable to get away from her harassers – that’s not ok in my books. And no I don’t think it would be ok if the sex roles were reversed either, we can’t let the pendulum swing in either direction – equality means equality.