15 Aug 2010, Comments (11)

Ad Nauseam: Generational, er, change?

Author: Helen

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 enters
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!

Comments (11) »

  • Ann O'Dyne says:

    Yes, exactly.

    Sub-text 2: that Males are bereft of The Knowledge of how to clean ?

    I also worry about impressionable preschoolers using those nifty ringpull tops on their spaghettios to release their own artistic emulation of the whole shocking thing.

    The cost of producing that advertisement must have been shocking as well. Smug adperson somewhere anticipating an award.
    I could give them one.

  • JahTeh says:

    If it was me I would pick up the boy, dunk him in cleaning solution and use him as the cleaning rag. Much more fun. [Soap and water only, Witchy: we want the kid to have fun, not get eaten away with alkalis. ED]

    Miss O’Dyne, with advanced IT kids these days, I expect YouTube to be overrun with copycats of this ad.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Does Hart have any granddaughters?

  • Helen says:

    Funny you should say that Pav. From the linked article:

    Harry’s big sister, Chloe, has already developed a following, with art collectors scrambling to buy her abstract works.
    She fits in painting between school, socialising and her favourite past time, which she says is shopping.
    On June 23 Harry will have another chance to perform for the camera when he appears on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday.

    Of course, there’s possibly a good reason why the non- (as yet) painter was chosen to recreate the grandfather’s ad and for subsequent media gigs. His sister may have been less than enthusiastic about the idea and about appearing on HHIS, which I could very well understand. The article gives no clue to that.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Yes, I blurted before I read the link – but you’re right, it makes it all the more odd that they chose the boy to have his pregnant mother clean up after him. As you say, the daughter might have wanted nothing to do with it.

    I liked the Chaser’s performance art much better!

  • Kath Lockett says:

    Harry’s Mum could still come in and smile and do the cheesy, ‘just like his grandpa’ line and then hand him a chux and a bucket of soapy water and say, “Righto, I need this cleaned up before your father gets dinner ready, OK?”

  • Bwca Brownie says:

    Kath ‘The Grateful CHOChead’ proving once again that good chocolate intensifies wit.

  • Lizzie says:

    Possible taglines for your version:
    -The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    -Times may change, but Stainmaster stays the same/is still great/doesn’t need to

    How about:
    Mother enters
    Mother smiles with slightly dangerous glint
    Boy flinches
    Cut to mother and boy gleefully throwing food around together in a creative frenzy
    Father passes door and shakes head with a smile

    Or, father enters and laughs
    Cut to mother, father and boy cleaning floor together

  • Helen says:

    I like your scenario Lizzie! Sorry you stayed so long in moderation (first time comment). I blame this election.

  • ar says:

    that’s ‘ad nauseam’ – the suffix ‘-eum’ were it to exist would be a delight

  • Helen says:

    Oh moi Gourd. How Embarrasment!! Will fix it forthwith.

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