Opinion: Mr. Clean’s Super Bowl ad may get buzz, but does it cross the ‘creepy’ line?

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Mr. Clean

After posting a teaser ad earlier this week with “stranger-danger” vibes all over it, Mr. Clean has released its official “Cleaner of Your Dreams” Super Bowl LI spot — and it features Mr. Clean in a whole new light, seductively dancing as he mops floors and scrubs the shower.

The brand is obviously using the sex-sells angle to get more buzz. But does the ad make Mr. Clean out to be more of a predator than the cleaner of your dreams?

Taking the “not suitable for work” route in a Super Bowl campaign is as new as drinking beer and eating nachos during the game. There has never been a shortage of Super Bowl spots using sex to sell on TV’s biggest night for advertisers.

GoDaddy made its name on controversial Super Bowl spots with the likes of race car driver Danica Patrick and Victoria Secrets model Bar Refaeli. In 2015, Carl Jr.’s Super Bowl ad showcased a nearly naked model strolling through the town center, talking about how she loves, “… going all natural,” to sell the fast food restaurant’s all-natural grass-fed beef burgers. Three years ago Nestlé launched its Butterfinger Cups product in a Super Bowl ad oozing with sexual innuendo.

Mr. Clean can now add its name to the list of Super Bowl brands that have pushed the envelope, but this campaign feels different from your run-of-the-mill sex-sells advertising effort.

The brand’s aim — to create a seductive male who will dance his way into every housewife’s heart (or better, bedroom) — falls short. Instead of being someone women find sexy, Mr. Clean comes across more like someone men think women would find sexy — but, in reality, elicits the very opposite effect.

Starting with the way he ogles the woman as she pulls loose her ponytail in the brand’s 10-second teaser ad, Mr. Clean isn’t seductive — he’s the guy you avoid making eye contact with in the grocery store cereal aisle.

But then, the brand drives it home in the full spot, as Mr. Clean forcefully bangs down his cleaning supplies in front of the woman, and then eerily stares at her from the other side of the glass shower door.

I get it. The ad is supposed to be funny, and sexy, in a “Fifty Shades of Grey” meets Schneider from “One Day at a Time” kind of way. It’s possible that I am in the minority when it comes to females who find this Mr. Clean more icky than enticing — but the not-suitable-for-work vibe the brand is pushing comes across tired to me.

In addition to making its iconic Mr. Clean character a creepy, tight-fitting-white-jeans-wearing, Magic Mike reject, what I find most offensive is the turn it takes at the end, when Mr. Clean ends up being a man — presumably the woman’s husband — with an exaggerated “Dad bod” who asks, “… is it clean enough?”

The scene is immediately followed by the line, “You gotta love a man who cleans.” Really? In 2017, a man who cleans is so much of a rarity that we’re making him into a sex object?

As someone who is most likely dead-center of the demographic Procter & Gamble is aiming to reach — a middle-aged female (in case I didn’t already date myself with the “One Day at a Time” reference), mother of two, wife and professional — I find the campaign bewildering. This Mr. Clean is far from the cleaner of my dreams. He’s a nightmare.

I reached out to two other female friends of the same age (and similar 1970s sitcom watching history) as me. The first said she thought the ad was insulting to both women and men. The other called it gross. It was an extremely small pool of like-minded women, but the poll results were the same.

What do you think? Is Super Bowl LI’s Mr. Clean someone you want mopping your floors? Or would you lock the front door if you saw him standing on your porch? Tell us if you find him more creepy than sexy — or is it just another funny Super Bowl ad — on Marketing Land’s Facebook page.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


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