Description: The Stainmaster carpet ad from the 1980s. A large living room with large expanse of beautiful, spotless cream-coloured carpet. Pro Hart, a popular Australian artist, uses wine, cream, canned spaghetti, a whole Black Forest cake and other food items to create a giant picture of an insect on the carpet. When he’s finished, he just leaves it. His elderly Italian cleaning lady comes in, exclaims “Oh, Mister Hart, What a mess!” and cleans it all up for him.
As I remember, this ad was on high rotation in the late 80s and early 90s. It was a lot of fun. The idea of action painting with food on your living room carpet was gloriously free and transgressive, especially getting right in there and doing it with your whole body (although Hart is mysteriously clean when the ad comes to an end.)
Here’s The Chaser’s version.
Fast forward to 2010, and Harry Hart – Pro Hart’s grandson – takes the leading role in a recreation of the original (Embed replaced by a link because it was throwing the whole template out)
So in 1988, a man has a great time action painting with food and wine on a pristine carpet, and his dear old cleaning lady cleans it up for him. In 2010, his adorable grandson Harry has a great time recreating the ad, and his (pregnant) mum cleans it up for him. In fact, rather than throwing up her hands in mock horror like the dear old cleaning lady, she beams with unmitigated delight at the spectacle of what she is about to clean. As with the previous ad, there’s a final spoken line: “Too much like his grandfather…”
I see no reason to celebrate the recreation of one depiction of a subservient woman on her knees cleaning up after a superbly creative and kooky and loveable (aren’t they all!) alpha male. I’m not the target market (more of a polished floor with rugs here and there person) but if I was in the market for wall-to-wall carpet, I’d be looking for alternatives.
It would have been too easy to update this ad to show some intergenerational progress and to recognise the humanity of women by just tweaking the ending a bit, leaving the fun part of the ad intact.
Mother smiles with a slightly dangerous glint in eye
Cut to mother watching lovingly as adorable child cleans the goo off the carpet. (Bonus message for client: So easy even a child could do it!)
Since we’ve entered the realm of possibility so far as to create a giant insect with food on the living room carpet, we can help break down the cleaning product ad cliche of women as servants.
But what would the voiceover at the end say in the new version? “Some things have changed since his grandfather’s time”? Other suggestions? Have at it!