Published on: February 1, 2017
by Kate McMahon
There will be a new sex symbol steaming up the small screen and social media during Sunday night’s Super Bowl telecast. No, not a scantily-clad buxom babe (like we've gotten used to seeing in GoDaddy ads), but a more unlikely choice: Mr. Clean.
Yes, Mr. Clean. Like you’ve never seen him before.
The iconic 59-year-old bald and bold mascot for his eponymous brand has morphed into one buff and bump-and-grinding hunk in the 30-second commercial. We’re talking Magic Mike in head-to-toe white. You can see it at left.
Since its release last week, the ad has racked up more than 1.8 million views on YouTube. On Mr. Clean’s official Facebook page, almost 700,000 followers viewed the debut and shared their views –- 2,000-plus comments which ranged from “creepy” and “offensive” to “love it” and “Whoa lookin’ good!”
Acknowledging on Twitter that his moves are testing the seams of his body-hugging pants and tee-shirt, @RealMrClean posted a head-in-hands photo with the tweet “That look when you realize your mom will see your sexy Super Bowl ad.” (Which, when you think about it, hardly is the most provocative thing that has been Tweeted lately...)
This is the first Super Bowl commercial for the Procter & Gamble cleaning product, and exemplifies how social media has dramatically altered the game plan for marketers and advertisers. Up until the past decade, the Super Bowl’s “breakthrough commercials” (think the much-lauded 1984 Apple ad launching the Macintosh or the Mean Joe Green spot for Coca-Cola in 1980) were kept under wraps until the big night.
Today, most ads are previewed with much fanfare and a marketing blitz covers all social media platforms. Websites have already declared “the best” and “most-talked about 2017 Super Bowl ads” five days before the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons square off in Houston. Brands in the spotlight include perennial powers Budweiser and the carmakers, Skittles and Snickers, Intel and Turbo Tax, and newcomer Mr. Clean.
Which brings us back to our man, mop or sponge in hand, sashaying his way from the kitchen to the steam shower and seducing the woman of the house up until the last few frames.
Admittedly, I am the first to call out advertising campaigns that I find sexist and insulting to women. I have frequently asked the question: “Didn’t anyone in the room realize this is stupid, misogynistic and offensive to 51% of the population?” (Some MNB readers have commented from time to time that I should lighten up and have more of a sense of humor.)
So I have to admit that while I thought this ad was funny, I knew it would raise a legitimate question: Would I have the same reaction if the gender roles were reversed and a woman was being objectified? Is this a double standard?
Yes, the ad is a little risqué, but Mr. Clean is a cartoon character. And men being sexually objectified in media is not a defining issue of our times. And anyone would be hard-pressed to argue with the closing line “you gotta love a man who cleans.”
Most importantly, it tells a story, which matters for a Super Bowl ad or any retailer or marketer seeking to connect with an audience. I guarantee that like the commercial or not, you'll remember it.
After the Super Bowl, the mascot will step out of the limelight for a year. He will be replaced by 40-year-old Mike Jackson of Atlanta, whose won a nationwide search for The Next Mr. Clean. (Women were also invited to post an audition on YouTube or attend casting calls to show they could be “just as clean, fearless, helpful and tough on dirt” as Mr. Clean.)
A self-described neat freak, Jackson is bald, muscular and wears a gold hoop earring in his left ear. Unlike his predecessor, he is African-American and works in sports marketing. After modeling for a limited edition Mr. Clean calendar and collecting his $20,000 check, Jackson will be a guest at the Super Bowl, leaving the dirty dancing and the clean up to the original for the evening.
Comments? As always, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- KC's View: