Commodification: Rinse, Fold, Stack Him, Mr. Perfect

As many of you know, my husband works in advertising. His input often helps me take a step back from my initial interpretations and look at how the crafty advertising team is trying to get my attention and etch a visual into my memory. Apparently, the greater the emotional response the advertising vehicle or message elicits, the greater the chance the consumer will remember the product being advertised. For instance, a fast-food restaurant will use a brightly coloured clown and collectible toys as its vehicle to attract children to its restaurant.

Lately, I've noticed that commodification has become a more popular trend, or using human beings as a commodity that can be purchased, consumed and discarded. As a feminist, I feel that the advertising industry has long commodified and objectified women with impunity, but yesterday, I was surprised by my husband's reaction to men being commodified.

While running some errands in the car together, he said, "I can't wait to show you this Norwegian advertisement I saw. It was really harsh and sexist."
"Oh really," I said looking at a billboard of a topless woman on all fours pretending to be a table.
"Yes," he said, "If they treated women with this kind of violence, the feminists would be up in arms and with good reason. It was shocking."
Needless to say, I was intrigued. He later sent me the link to a 46-second public service announcement (see below) that encourages people to assist recovery efforts and recycle used packaging materials in Norway. The advertisement is entitled, "Rinse, Fold and Stack Him, Mr. Perfect."

I agree that this advertisement commodifying men as empty milk cartons, which are to be rinsed, folded and stacked before being tossed with some other "used men" under the sink, is disrespectful and tasteless, but shocking? No. Women have been commodified and objectified in advertising for as long as I can remember. Part of me wants to ask, "So how does it feel?", while another part just wants to dismiss it and say "Oh it's just advertisers trying to get people to rinse their recyclables. Nothing more, nothing less." But this would make me no better than everyone and everything I abhor in the advertising world. Bottom line: Men and women have to work together on this to get rid of all forms of sexist advertising...Am I dreaming?

Readers: How does this ad make you feel? Would you feel the same way if the woman character had been the empty milk carton? Would you call this a clever way to get people to recycle? Do you find this ad shocking?


Assignment Help | December 14, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Yes, I agree. Regardless of gender, this (commodification) child of capitalism is eating the cultures, societies, creating imbalances, and disrespecting people. But you will not find much research on this issue because this may hurt the businesses but now this is the time when have to think out of it.

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