Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Friday, 11 December 2015

Outrage At Sexist Cillit Bang Advert

Outrage At Sexist Cillit Bang Advert

The Debrief: Cillit Bang ad in Spain implies that cleaning is a woman's work

 Got big plans this weekend? Do they involve going out to the shops, stocking up on cleaning products and cleaning your entire flat? Us neither…. 

The makers of Cillit Bang, a cleaning spray, seem to think that’s what women want, however. The Slough-based company, Reckitt Benckiser, who manufacture the product somewhat misguidedly commissioned an advert for the spray to be shown in Spain which features 32 women doing housework.

That’s right. They didn’t include any men, not one. Which only serves to reinforce the frustrating notion that cleaning is a woman’s work and that men don’t clean. 

The commercial shows the women spraying away and wiping surfaces in bathrooms before cutting to the money shot... of them all taking a selfie with their prized bottle of Cillit Bang whilst grinning enthusiastically. If only we had a quid for every time we've taken a happy cleaning selfie….oh wait. 

The advert has now been banned in Spain. The country’s advertising standards board decided to ban the commercials on the grounds of being sexist, because ‘the campaign presents women as solely responsible for undertaking housework.’

The film even concludes with the catchphrase ‘try it and you’ll be convinced’, using the Spanish feminine pronoun. Really reinforcing those gender stereotypes guys. 

Spain’s advertising watchdog ruled that because only women were used to promote the product, the advert was ‘discriminatory for assigning a role according to gender.’

Reckitt Benckiser told The Independent that it was sorry for the campaign and that the advertisements had been amended. 

In a statement, the company said that ‘at no time has it sought to discriminate against woman, or to produce sexist advertising’. It added that the company ‘defends gender equality in all areas’.  

That’s all very well and good but these things do actually matter. Adverts hold great power, they influence us consciously and subconsciously. It’s damaging for people to see a smiling all-female cast in an advert for a cleaning product because the subliminal message is this: women love cleaning, cleaning is for women, men don’t clean and that’s OK. 

Interestingly according to figures from the Organisation for Econmic Development (OECD) which were put together earlier this year, Spain falls behind the OECD average when it comes to the number of women who work. While 51% of Spanish women aged between 15 and 65 work in the country this trails below the average of 58%. 

So, while perhaps, for Spain, this is a case of art imitating life it confirms that such sexist stereotypes – woman does the cooking and cleaning while man goes to work - are damaging for everyone and it’s right that the advert was banned.  

Ironically, the fact that the advert has now been banned means that more people have probably seen it than would have if it hadn’t been so sexist in the first place...

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Tags: Sexism