How Clorox Convinced Itself That Latinas Love to Mop Floors

Last Updated Nov 18, 2010 12:24 PM EST

Brand managers at Clorox (CLX) are likely already working on their apology for this press release which paints Hispanic women as natural born cleaners:
In the Hispanic community, a clean home is a happy home, but during the holidays, it is critical for the home to be reluciente â€" or sparkling clean! According to a new study ...

[The survey] which explored the housekeeping lessons and cleaning routines shared between generations of Latinas, also revealed that cleaning is a rite of passage, taught by mothers and grandmothers and meant to influence present-day routines and brand choices.
On the subject of washing dishes or mopping floors by hand instead of with a machine or a long-handled mop, the release said:
Most preferred this old fashioned approach because it's what they are used to and plus it was "a better clean."
Unsurprisingly, public reaction has not been kind. Jezebel said:
... who at the cleaning conglomerate thought this was a good idea? Was nobody worried about playing into stereotypes about Latina women as maids and cleaning ladies? Did nobody think that trying to position Clorox products as part of some kind of Latina matrilineal tradition was kind of cynical and insulting? Irrespective of all this, didn't anybody read the press release and notice it was just plain weird?
I've previously defended Pine Sol for targeting minorities with its ads. (The company was criticized for using an alleged "mandingo" stereotype in its Pine Sol commercials.) However, the Clorox Hispanic survey and the Pine Sol ad are part of a run of marketing that is starting to make the company look like it is obsessed with stereotypes. This commercial for its signature bleach states:
Laundry is not new. Your mother, your grandmother, her mother, they all did the laundry.

While corporate America is often conservative, I suspect that Clorox's ambition here is not to fantasize about living in the 1950s, when women wore long dresses, blacks mopped floors and Hispanics were all "I like to be in America!"

In its efforts to do as much market research as possible, it's more likely that Clorox's brand managers forgot how some things sound when you haven't spent the last six months digesting focus group scripts, PowerPoint decks and survey datapoints. Surrounded by their own staff and PR agencies, management probably wasn't listening to anyone not on the Clorox dime.

The solution to this type of group-think is simple: Show your stuff to a stranger unconnected with the company before you broadcast it, as a reality check.

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