Swiffer has pledged to pull a mop advertisement that references Rosie the Riveter after it sparked a backlash online from commenters and bloggers who called the ad sexist. The image in contention advertises Swiffer’s Steam Boost mop, and displays a woman dressed up as a modernized Rosie the Riveter, wearing a denim shirt and red polka-dot bandana, while holding the mop in her crossed arms.
According to the Atlantic Wire, the ad was first spotted by Heather Beschizza. Beschizza shared a photo of the Swiffer packaging on Twitter and Instagram, along with the message, “We can do it! Because cleaning kitchens is a woman's work.” The circulated advertisement quickly gained steam on social media, but probably not the kind the mop designers had anticipated. Several bloggers took Proctor & Gamble to task for appropriating a feminist image for what they described as a blatantly sexist end.
"If you can't see why it's offensive, or at least incredibly ignorant, to use her likeness to market a FANCY BROOM, then you're not looking,” Buzzfeed writer Raina Douris wrote. "The whole point is that Rosie symbolizes women's DEPARTURE from being solely responsible for homemaking. This ad is backwards."
“I'm not going to flame you for the Rosie ad. I'm just going to say that it makes me incredibly sad that in 2013 we still pigeon-hole (white) women as the ones in the kitchen, sweeping up the floor,” Leila Bryner-Santos wrote on Facebook. “Everything communicates... Is this really the message that you want to send?”
“An icon of women's wartime strength and adaptability, back in the kitchen where she belongs,” Wendy Bonilla added in another Facebook post. “Thank you for reminding womyn where they belong and thank you for continuously instill in men that cleaning a home is a woman's job (insert sarcasm) -_- You just lost a customer [sic].”
â€” Heather Beschizza (@hbeschizza) June 2, 2013
On the other hand, some customers criticized the company for removing the ads, arguing that the images hadn’t been offensive and discouraging Proctor & Gamble from yieklding to people eager to be offended. “can't believe you kowtowed to the tiny group of the mighty mouths of the constantly offended,” one Facebook user wrote. “i'm betting a lot more people would have stood by your Rosie ad (a woman of strength) than the few who live their lives to seek wrong everywhere they turn.”“It's sad that you guys are caving because some people are overly sensitive ... It's an ad,” another user wrote.
Proctor & Gamble removed the image from the Steam Boost Mop’s website less than 24 hours after the publication of the Alantic Wire article. In a statement, the company said, "It was not our intention to offend any group with the image, and we are working to make changes to where it is used as quickly as possible.”
Our core value is to make cleaning easier, no matter who's behind the handle. We apologize and are working hard to remove the image.
â€” Swiffer (@Swiffer) June 4, 2013
Despite the backlash, the website Think Progress commended Proctor & Gamble for its “swift and admirable” apology, and pointed out several other companies including PETA, Axe, and GoDaddy, that failed to apologize for advertisements that were criticized for being sexist.