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.
Nikki thinks Hoover’s ad is misjudged
This 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
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?