Hoover’s ironing ad – steamy or sexist?

by , Conversation Editor Energy & Home 20 September 2013
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Hoover’s new interactive ironing ad is causing controversy. The game asks you to help iron your date’s clothes, who strips down to his boxers. Our Nikki Whiteman and Amy Hupe debate whether the ad’s ill-judged.

Screenshot of Hoover's IronSpeed game

Nikki thinks Hoover’s ad is misjudged

Nikki WhitemanThis week a new Hoover game popped into my inbox, with a subject line that was disapproving to say the least. We’ve discussed sexism in marketing before here on Which? Convo, although usually the ads have objectified women.

The game, which advertises Hoover’s new IronSpeed steam generator iron, asks you ‘who’s going to be the lucky man?’, allowing you to select one of three men to go on a date with. When you’ve picked your date for the evening, he asks you to help him iron his clothes before you go out.

The idea is that this game shows you how the new Hoover iron’s different settings make ironing clothes a breeze. Unfortunately, what it seems to be telling you alongside that is that men aren’t capable of ironing their clothes. Which is odd, because most men I know are more than capable of picking up an iron and getting rid of a crease or two.

All of this is accompanied by the vision of men stripping off their clothes and giving you cheeky winks as you get on with the ironing. I’m sure many will appreciate it, but if it were women getting down to their underwear to sell a household appliance, I suspect there’d be sparks flying. And rightly so.

I’m not one for pulling out the torches and pitchforks whenever there’s an iota of sexism, but I do think this game is misjudged. If I’m buying a product, I’m buying it because it’s good value and has features that are useful, not because there’s an attractive guy standing next to it winking at me.

Amy thinks Hoover’s ad is harmless fun

Amy HupePlease be gentle with me for saying this, but I can’t help but feel that any outrage directed at this game feels a teeny, tiny bit like political correctness gone mad.

I find it hard to feel offended by the sight of a man in his boxer shorts, partially obscured by an ironing board, when frankly you’d see far less discreet attire on just about any European beach during peak season. I mean, yes, it’s a little bit risqué but can’t we just see it for what it is – a harmless bit of fun?

I would also argue that the game is not exclusively making assumptions about men. What about the underlying assumption that women are obvious consultants in the realm of domestic chores? Or that the way to sell irons is to parade a couple of scantily clad men around under the pretext of a fairly precarious link to ironing?!

In truth, we could all find something to be offended about here if we looked hard enough, but in my opinion we should take this joke in the spirit it was intended. Even, dare I say it, if the joke in question pokes fun at a couple of pretty outdated gender stereotypes.

Do I think that Hoover genuinely sees women as domestically-bound 1950s housewives, or that men are clueless brutes, good for nothing except taking off their clothes and taking us out to dinner? No, I don’t. I think it’s a clever marketing tactic designed to get people talking. And guess what – here we are talking about it!

So, what do you think about Hoover’s ad – is it a bit sexist or just a bit steamy?

8 comments

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Malcolm R

I wasn’t very successful at this game, although I can iron (but rarely do – Mrs R’s job and I don’t want to tread on her toes or she might strike).
A great curse of modern times is political correctness, where people are persuaded they should take offence at anything that could possibly be regarded as a criticism of their sex, politics, religion, colour ……. Whatever happened to tolerance – do we have to carefully consider every word we utter or write, and the possible interpretations that could be placed upon them, just on the off-chance someone might be slightly upset? It’s all nonsense.
There is nothing in this advert that is genuinely offensive – unless perhaps you belong to the Mrs Whitehouse brigade. Let’s get a life (back).
Hands up all those I’ve offended.

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John Ward

A real man irons his shirt while he’s still wearing it [although he might need a bit of help doing the back]. And no woman should go out with a man who doesn’t iron his trunks or boxers.

Obviously ironing your shirt whilst wearing it is never something we would recommend John!

As for ironing trunks and boxers – I’m not so sure I’m with you on that point…

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John Ward

Never mind, at least we share the same view on the Hoover ad . . . even if Nikki thinks its pants.

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Figgerty

In my experience, men iron shirts much better than women and we must continue to praise them for it. They are more fastidious at smoothing out seams, ironing between the buttons and getting the collar and cuffs just right. Long may they do so!

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John Ward

I’m good at ladies’ blouses too – in fact I find them more enjoyable because of the darts and pleats and fancy plackets, shaped yokes and bellows pockets.

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Figgerty

John, Hoover missed a trick when they didn’t use you in the advert.

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Katy Davies

I was just wondering how you pick your campaigns? Ever considered joining forces with the people over at ‘No More Page 3′? If so, why not? It’s much more mainstream than a hoover advert to a wide-ranging audience. Wondered why I can’t find anything about this on your website. Maybe I haven’t searched well enough.
Thanks,
Katy

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