Why it’s better to be loved (and hated) than be beige

One of my favourite ads of 2009 was the Method Shiny Suds commercial. Unfortunately it got pulled by Method, after some 100 people complained that it was sexist.

The ad starts with a fake commercial for a cleaning product called Shiny Suds. When our heroine returns to the shower the next day she is greeted by chemical residue in the form of bubbles bearing an uncanny, and probably planned, resemblance to the SC Johnson Scrubbing Bubbles.

As a female that showers, I thought it started with a great insight that spoke to what was remarkable about Method’s products. It made me think about a product category I rarely think of and made me want to use Method. They asked the question, when did clean become so dirty and said you deserved to know what chemicals are in your cleaners by supporting the Household Product Labeling Acts which would require disclosure of ingredients in
household cleaners in the US.

Was the advertising potentially polarizing? You bet! But it was noticed. And to be noticed you have to stick your neck out and that means some people will love you and some people will dislike you. The alternative is to have beige advertising that no one notices. I call it beige because rarely do you find someone that hates beige. It’s a safe colour choice. Of course, I challenge you to find anyone who loves beige.

Sample complaints were in the vein of the following: “Making us fear chemical residue from cleaning products because it’s tied into a rape threat is beyond sickening.”

Method’s reaction to its vocal minority disappoints me. I’m a fan of the company because they’ve approached the seemingly low interest category of cleaning products and reinvented it with beautifully design products that can be displayed on, rather than hidden under, the counter in your home.

The video got 700,000 views and a 5 star rating on YouTube with 2,500 letters written supporting the Household Products Labeling Acts to more than 400 members of Congress, according to Method.

Take 30 seconds and watch the ad and tell me what you think.

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