Back in March, a Huggies commercial stereotyping fathers as clueless klutzes provoked such a big firestorm that Kimberly-Clark had to pull the spot and remake the rest of the campaign. On April 18, thefrisky.com reported on a commercial that Liquid Plumr started airing in February — one that evokes an even worse stereotype of women as sex-starved nymphomaniacs.
But while the Huggies commercial provoked instant outrage from Richmond, Virginia, to Richmond, California, reaction to the Liquid Plumr video has been…silence.
Promotion or pornography?
The commercial is filled with demeaning double entendres.
It opens with a woman in a supermarket aisle, dreamily repeating aloud the words on the Liquid Plumr label: “Double Impact…Double Impact.” With each repetition, her eyes glaze and her breathing becomes heavier.
We dissolve to her, at home, opening the front door as one of what the YouTube caption calls “the two sexiest plumbers ever” shows up “to snake your drain.”
He’s followed by the second, who’s “here to flush your pipe.” Get it?
As disco-era romantic music fades up, she squeals, closes the door, lets her hair down, licks her lips, and follows them up to the bathroom.
As she snuggles up between the two plumbers, demonstration footage cuts in, and a deep male voice talks about product features, such as a “lo-o-o-ng snake…to break up clogs, baby.”
We then dissolve back to her in the supermarket aisle, coming out of what was a reverie about the plumbers — a reverie so powerful that she grabs several containers of the stuff and scurries, shamefaced, toward checkout.
Insulting the target audience
Most drain-cleaning products are bought by women, not men, so it’s obvious from the YouTube comments that this commercial missed the mark:
I bought Liquid Plumr and nothing happened. Maybe it’s cuz [sic] I’m a dude.
I’d flush her pipe any day.
Is it gay if their snakes touch?
One commenter figured exactly what game Clorox, Liquid Plumr’s parent company, was playing:
Calling it double penetration was probably too blatant to get away with, so they had to settle with “impact.”
Many women echoed these sentiments on Liquid Plumr’s Facebook page:
I find it quite pitiful that Liquid Plumr has joined the new age of we need sex to sell our product. I won’t be purchasing it any longer.
I was very offended when I saw this commercial for the first time today. I was watching TV with my children who are on Spring Break. I will no longer be purchasing any Liquid Plumber [sic] products.
Are companies so short on advertising ideas that they turn to sexual inuendos [sic] to help sell their products?
But there were as many, if not more, others who found the video just dandy.
Invisibility is no excuse
Maybe the reason nobody’s spoken out against this commercial is that nobody’s seen it. On YouTube, it’s had only 8,093 views. (By way of comparison, a parody of this spot, from “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” got 10,983 YouTube views.)
Well, now you’ve seen it.
If women can come forward to protest Huggies demeaning men, it’s only fair that men — and women — step up to return the favor.