Swiffer Ad of Rosie the Riveter Pulled, Company Apologizes After Backlash

Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 08:11 AM

By Megan Anderle

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Swiffer is under fire for their ad depicting Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of strength for women during World War II, holding a Swiffer steam mop, with many calling the campaign insulting and sexist.

Rosie the Riveter, the iconic cartoon woman in the red bandana who rolls up her sleeves and flexes her bicep in Westinghouse Electric's "We Can Do It!" ad, was recreated in Swiffer's latest ad for the Swiffer Bissell Steam Boost.

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Yahoo Shine! reported Heather Bezchissa spotted the ad, snapped a picture, and posted it on Instagram and Twitter along with the caption: "We can do it! Because cleaning kitchens is a woman's work. #swiffer #sexist."

The image soon went viral, prompting widespread backlash.

"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," commented Raina Douris at Buzzfeed. "The whole point is that Rosie symbolizes women's DEPARTURE from being solely responsible for homemaking. This ad is backwards."

"I love the clear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy,” Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza wrote.

"Because nothing says, 'I can’t wait to rush home from my full-time job to start my second shift of devalued, unpaid household labor with my Swiffer Bissel Steam Boost!' like Rosie the Riveter," wrote Maya at Feministing.

The uproar forced Swiffer's parent company, Proctor & Gamble, to issue a statement and pull the ad on Wednesday.

"We are aware of the concerns regarding an image in a Swiffer ad. Our core purpose is to make cleaning easier for all consumers, regardless of who is behind the handle of our products. 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," Proctor & Gamble told the Huffington Post in an email.

The advertising industry is no stranger to sexism.

MSN notes American Apparel was under fire for its ad campaign for its "unisex" flannel shirt. In the men's adversiement, the male model is fully clothed, while the women's ad depicts a female model in panties with the shirt unbuttoned.

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Related stories:

Whole Foods Sexist? Facebook Post Tells Women to Cook for Their Man

North Korea Rapped Over Sexist Crack on Female Prez

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