Wardrobe Malfunction

Hi, everyone, and welcome to another week of Things You Never Noticed You Noticed! Anyone that's been following this blog for the past few weeks knows that I usually talk about small touches in movies or other works that are easy to overlook but that also add something real and powerful to the piece they're in. This week, however, I want to change directions just slightly and talk about something small in an advertisement that's been irritating me recently. Swiffer put out a seires of ads a few months ago, trying to show that their flagship product is perfect for families in any situation, with the tagline "If you've got a life, you gotta Swiffer." At the end of one of these ads, which featured a mother picking up after her wannabe-hairstylist of a son, we see a shot of a woman walking through her house like this:

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This shot is annoying because of the heels the woman wears, and there are many reasons wearing such heels indoors is ridiculous. For one, it can't exactly be as comfortable as wearing sneakers or socks or going barefoot, all of which are perfectly reasonable options in one's own home. Second, it's not exactly good for those beautiful wood floors, which the commercial has made a point to highlight. Most importantly though, it’s just not what home is about. Your home is meant to be the place, where you can be comfortable in whatever you want without having to present something to the world.  

The question, then, becomes why on earth did the people making this ad decide to make the character wear heels in her own living room? After all, we know enough about how people live in their home to know that this wasn't simply what the people making the ad assumed everyone wore around the house. There's two possible reasons. For one, heels worn around the house like that create an inescapable impression of wealth, an impression that the advertisement has been pushing from its opening moments. And, of course, high heels will always make a woman conform more closely to a traditional standard of beauty. But then again, this commercial is selling the Swiffer. People don't buy a Swiffer because they think it'll make them rich or beautiful, they buy it because they too want to keep their house as clean as possible as simply as possible.

What's truly irritating, though, is that this ad intentionally misses what could have been its greatest selling point. You want to know how to really sell the Swiffer? Have that same woman barefoot, and make the point that since she goes barefoot around her house she sure as hell wants to make sure her floors are clean. That's the message that will sell the Swiffer: you want to relax at home without having a hundred different nasty things under your feet but without also doing a ton of work? Swiffer. This ad tries to approach that idea, but in dressing it's protagonist in heels in her own living room misses out on a small detail that could have tied it all together and made the image appeal to so many. It made a lazy choice, noticing that the main character's dress matters, but not noticing it enough to consciously interrogate it. If they had, they might have made a better commercial.

With excitement and optimism, 

Alex