Vanish ad takes welcome baby steps for gender diversity
Because older women can get muddy riding bikes and older men can paint and regularly do their own laundry…
We wanted to highlight what we like about a new advert for stain removal that’s hitting our eyeballs. Not because we have any affiliation with the brand or care what state your laundry is in, but because it’s taking proactive baby steps to challenge gender norms and increase the visibility of diverse gender roles in the mainstream.
The ad features an older woman who needs stain removers because she’s super-keen on cycling. Her high-performance bike threads get pretty muddy, then sit around for awhile until she gets round to doing the laundry. Because housekeeping is not her life.
In addition, an older man does the laundry for his grandchildren on a regular basis. Because he does actually know how to use a cleaning product, which is such a welcome contrast to the endless adverts feeding us messages that a cleaning product is so easy that, gasp, even a man could do it. He needs a stain remover because he loves creating art with delicate pastels and his children often get paint on their clothes when they join him in creative adventures.
Tiny baby steps in mainstream advertising like this are important. This stain remover can’t remove the tears of clowns or the blood of fallen monstrous foes, which is a shame because that might make us swear allegiance. What it does do is chip away at the idea that gender can only work in one way and it would be pointless to expect anything different.