Method Pulls 'Shiny Suds' Ad After Sexism Complaints
BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Household cleaner marketer Method has pulled down a viral video roundly applauded by marketers at the Association of National Advertisers annual conference last month and by most viewers who've seen it because of heated complaints from some women who view it as sexist and even condoning rape.
The "Shiny Suds" video from Droga5, New York, the agency's first work for Method since winning the account a year ago, was a parody of traditional household cleaner advertising meant to support the Household Product Labeling Acts, which would require disclosure of ingredients in household cleaners.
The video, while taken down late last week by Method from its website and Droga5 from YouTube, remains available through unauthorized versions.
It shows a woman doing a commercial for seemingly friendly bubble creatures not unlike SCJohnson's Scrubbing Bubbles, which the next day turn into leering perverts commenting on the woman taking a shower and urging her to use a loofah. The message: "You deserve to know what chemicals are in your cleaners."
The video got more than 700,000 views in a week on YouTube and a five-star rating from viewers before Method pulled the plug. Method competitor Unilever seemed to like it, too. Search ads for its Dove brand appeared alongside results for searches on the phrase "Shiny Suds" the day the video first appeared Nov. 18. (A spokeswoman for Dove didn't return an e-mail for comment by deadline).
Little did attendees at the ANA or most commenters on YouTube and Twitter know, however, that the Shiny Suds were really about degrading women and promoting rape, at least in the opinion of commenters on one blog, Shakesville, which posted the video in its "Today in Rape Culture" section.
That elicited more than 100 angry comments from posters, many of whom said they would stop buying Method products and helped produce some of the hundreds of negative responses to the company's website MethodHome.com. Among the posts: "Making us fear chemical residue from cleaning products because it's tied into a rape threat is beyond sickening."
Of course, that's not the point Method was trying to make. "Due to the sensitive nature of [concerned viewers'] concerns we chose to take down the video," a spokeswoman for Method said in an email statement.
"We received a great deal of feedback about the Shiny Suds video, much of it overwhelmingly positive," she said. "We also received feedback from concerned viewers. ... As with all media messages, people will interpret our video in different ways. The purpose of the video was to raise awareness for transparency in cleaning product ingredients, to which we remain committed."
Besides offending some people, the video did result in 2,500 letters supporting the Household Products Labeling Acts to more than 400 members of Congress, according to Method.