The Woolite commercial directed by Rob Zombie pretty much looks exactly like a Twilight movie if it had a baby with a Texas Chainsaw massacre movie. There’s a horrific character wearing a leather mask dragging body parts or laundry, you decide, across the lawn of a dilapidated shingle house in the sticks. He’s brutalizing clothes on various instruments of torture. I know it’s supposed to be funny. I think it is funny. To pimply adolescents (and maybe some weirdos?) living in their parent’s basement. People who actually use Woolite? That can’t be anyone but women. Really though the social content is almost unimportant, what’s dazzling is that a detergent company wanted to align itself with images of murder. Even if you’re trying to reach pimply adolescents it’s disappointing.
Several years ago Nike had a far more inventive and controversial ad using a movie-based killer. Start running ladies because you might have to run away someday from someone trying to kill you. It was macabre but sort of truthful. Get strong so you can fight. Dark but good. The line between advertising humor and dark subject matter can be navigated with some smarts.
But as a detergent ad, it is just bad. It says nothing remotely “clean” or “confident” or positive, or evolved, (or feminine, or even fashionable.)
Does advertising have any social responsibility? Most women the world over have lived through fleeting moments of sheer terror at having turned the wrong corner, taken the wrong exit, ran out of gas in the darkest place and known the edges of a terror that has nothing to do with detergent. Let’s not even talk about the real world global victims of senseless torture. Horror movies are something people can elect to see when they plunk down their cash at the ticket booth. Or the cable subscription to GoreTV. When on the other hand, it gets smacked in during an 80s rerun, that’s kind of bullshit. Some of us don’t want to see it. If you’re going to populate my tv real estate with images designed to make me spend money, make them instructive and enlightened. I mean just make them good.
Especially If you’re talking to women who are the type of women to wash their clothes by hand in a basin so that their said washables last longer.