Kat Child is a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and a digital marketing associate at Eckel & Vaughan.
Brands that objectify women or depict them with unattainable standards of beauty are increasingly coming under fire, while brands that challenge such stereotypes are earning praise and attention. This is refreshing for many women. But what about other outdated perceptions of women — for example, women as the primary housekeepers? For the most part, there is less backlash, and brands that perpetuate this image have been slower to adapt.
From the success of major campaigns like Dove’s “Real Beauty” to Always’s “Like a Girl,” to the lesser-known Clif Bar’s LUNAFEST Campaign, we have seen how women respond positively to brands that recognize and advocate for their potential beyond their appearance.
We have also seen the anger that ignites when brands portray women as ethereally thin, perfectly proportioned Barbie dolls. Think model Renee Somerfield plus one violently yellow background.
So why does Clorox get away with making commercials that consistently portray a woman as the one cleaning up her children’s bathroom accidents, tidying a soiled kitchen after her husband’s failed attempt at making dinner … even wiping up her spouse’s sweat?!
Of course, Clorox is not the only brand emphasizing household work for women. The majority of household products, like Febreze, Windex, and Downy, to name a few, target women.
Recent research suggests that the next generation of men may not be so distinctly divided from the world of air fresheners and disinfecting cleansers, as more and more partners attempt to split household chores equally.
Significantly, men are more open than ever to viewing household chores in a positive light. Over half of men (55%) feel a sense of accomplishment after completing housework.
Men are becoming increasingly involved in domestic duties, and brands need to recognize that. How much longer will millennials willingly watch women spritz, spray, and scrub? My guess is, not long. With 57% of women participating in the labor force and that percentage growing, it’s not just smart business for household brands to expand their target to both genders — it’s essential.