With Dr. Ruth, Clorox Goes From Whiter Whites to Fifty Shades of Grey

For Valentine's Day, Brand Wants You To Know Laundry Leads to Better Things

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer will help Clorox 2 teach about the joy of pretreating.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer will help Clorox 2 teach about the joy of pretreating.
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Think of Valentine's Day or sex, and chances are laundry doesn't immediately come to mind. Clorox Co. has enlisted Dr. Ruth to change that.

Specifically, Clorox 2 is launching a publicity effort backed by sex therapist and media personality Ruth Westheimer for Valentine's Day. The campaign by Omnicom's Ketchum aims to drive home the point that this mundane chore can lead to bigger and better things.

Just as sex without foreplay isn't so fun, the folks at Clorox want you to know that laundry without pre-treatment isn't so hot either.

Ms. Westheimer said in an interview she got a chuckle when she first heard the name of the website backing the initiative, LaundryForeplay.com. But she's very much a believer that the trend toward men doing more laundry can be good for relationships and sex lives.

"For Valentine's Day, people should know, men and women, that sharing the household chores and sharing maybe a new position for Valentine's Day may be a good idea," she said. "What worries me always is that sex becomes boring."

"It's actually sexy to see a man do the laundry," she added. "You give a message that we're in this together."

While workplaces, schools, bars, clubs and the like often seem like the ideal places to find a mate, laundromats and laundry rooms of apartment buildings or college dorms have underappreciated potential. Wash day can get even more exciting if a guy brings along "some erotic literature," she said.

"Women do get aroused by erotic literature. It might be a way of starting a conversation.," said Ms. Westheimer, ranked No. 13 on Playboy's list of the "55 Most Important People in Sex" on the occasion of the magazine's 55th anniversary in 2009.

And so while Clorox bleach may best be known for whiter whites, Clorox 2 may soon be associated with Fifty Shades of Grey.

Actually, it doesn't have to just be laundry. Anything a man or woman does to shoulder some extra household burdens, whether it be taking kids out or handling some other chore, can only help put partners in the mood, said Ms. Westheimer. She added that this isn't limited to heterosexual couples.

"From a business perspective, we wanted to raise awareness about pretreating," said Molly Steinkrauss, associate marketing director at Clorox. "We wanted to reach younger consumers too, people who typically weren't laundry involved. …We thought there was a unique opportunity to leverage humor to reach people who might not be thinking about laundry by talking about something they might be thinking about."