P&G yanks its Rosie the Riveter ad for Swiffer

Using the iconic World War II image to sell a mop is derided as insulting. But the industry clearly sticks to sexist stereotypes.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 5, 2013 12:58PM

Swiffer's Rosie the Riveter ad that has since been pulled from the company’s website (hbeschizza via Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/aD7wrDuJ3i/#)Procter & Gamble (PG) found out this week that it's not wise to put a mop in the hand of a feminist icon. 

The packaged-goods giant pulled an image tapping the famous Rosie the Riveter World War II campaign after a furious backlash. The original poster shows a strong woman rolling up her sleeves with the caption "We Can Do It!" and is often used to promote feminism and women in the workforce and politics, such as this poster depicting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as Rosie.

P&G stirred up a hornet's nest when it posed a female model in Rosie-like garb, but instead of flexing her arm, she's holding a Swiffer mop. 

That prompted one woman to write on Twitter, "We can do it! Because cleaning kitchens is a woman's work." A backlash grew from there, with others writing that "even Don Draper would wince!" -- referring to the far-from-enlightened "Mad Men" character and pointing out that Swiffer had diminished a powerful icon. 

"It was not our intention to offend any group with the image, and we are working to make changes to where it is used as quickly as possible," Procter & Gamble told the Huffington Post

But the fact is that the advertising industry is no stranger to sexism.

Take American Apparel (APP), whose campaign for its "unisex" flannel shirt depicts a a fully clothed man. When it comes to the opposite sex, the unbuttoned shirt is draped over a naked woman.

While that's a stark example, household cleaning ads also tend to cling to the same old tropes: Women take care of the cleaning, and men get to admire the results. 

One study of broadcast TV ads from 2002 found that women were shown primarily as homemakers in commercials and that household products were most often associated with women

But with women now either the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of American households with children, the ad industry is long overdue for a gender image overhaul. 

Aimee Picchi owns shares in Procter & Gamble, but hasn't traded in the stock for at least 12 months. Follow her on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

More on moneyNOW

Tags: PG
Jun 5, 2013 1:16PM

Anyone who thinks that all women take care of the cleaning never met my ex wife. The only use she could possibly have for a broom would be to use it for transportation.


Jun 5, 2013 1:40PM
Don't show a picture of a guy with a lawn mower then.
Jun 5, 2013 1:14PM
These feminist groups and their ideas are utterly ridiculous.

Jun 5, 2013 1:17PM

People are up in arms about how others "might" be looking at them.


Meanwhile, the Fed is robbing them blind every day and they say nothing.



Jun 5, 2013 1:20PM
Jun 5, 2013 1:39PM

Yeah....men admire the results..... after they get home from work.  Give me a break....

Whats wrong with a woman keeping the house?

Jun 5, 2013 2:02PM
Sorry for the grammatical errors in the previous post.  I'm in a hurry to get back outside and finish mowing the lawn. 
Jun 5, 2013 3:01PM
Ridiculous, there isn't anything sexist about this ad, but once again the "PC" crowd comes out in force and blows things out of proportion....
Jun 5, 2013 2:04PM

If some people search for garbage to get offended by.....if this is the worst thing that happens to you today..get over it....Fat Lesbians Liberals!!!!!!!!!

Jun 5, 2013 1:23PM

"It was not our intention to offend any group with the image, and we are working to make changes to where it is used as quickly as possible," Procter & Gamble .


Translation: We have less chance of making the right decision than Private Joker. No matter what we do, the DI is pissed.

Jun 5, 2013 2:51PM

wow, my late mom WAS Rosie the Riveter. (she passed away, age 72, in 1986.)


luv u mom!

Jun 5, 2013 2:37PM

Oh, please, can we not be so GD fussy about this sort of thing? 

I we must "worry", can we just worry about things that really matter?

If you are offended by this Swiffer ad, simply do not buy the product.

Jun 5, 2013 2:00PM
That's right!  If you're going to be a feminist, you'd better be one the that you're told to be one.  None of this "decide for yourself" nonsense.  Tow the company line!  Do what you're told.  Don't let those nasty old men tell you what to do, how to think, and how to act.  Let other women do it.

Jun 5, 2013 1:47PM

That's NOT Rosie!  The 'we can do it woman' is NOT Rosie the riveter!


Rosie was drawn by Norman Rockwell and looks nothing like this!

Jun 5, 2013 2:47PM
Bull SH*T Just another PC bunch of crap. Don't like the commercial DON'T BUY THE PRODUCT. Damn crybabies  just want to force their crap on everyone else. Probably Dikes the whole damn bunch of whiners.
Jun 5, 2013 3:16PM
Dumb......truth be known, Rosie went home after a day at the shipyard, cleaned house, cooked, did laundry and probably would have like both the mop and the ad.  The ones complaining likely wouldn't know one end of a mop from the other....
Jun 5, 2013 3:01PM

This trouble maker Aimee Picchi owns PG stock and yet has the brass to even write this stupid article? She is as bad as the Doctors who own tobacco farms and yet preach against tobacco use. When asked why they don't sell their interest in these farms they say "oh no too much profit in them" Hypocrites' one and all.

As for women bringing in the main money in 40% of the households. Good for them. Hell they wanted that status so why bitch about it now. Rosie the riveter was created to show the POSITIVE addition women were to a specific work force needed during a time of war. She was not a negative personality and these PC push fools are idiots for acting like it is otherwise. Swiffer DID NOT in any way diminish Rosie the riveter and to imply otherwise is total bullsh*t .

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -4.30. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -9.30. The stock market is on track for a lower start as futures on the S&P 500 trade four points below fair value.

Index futures have retreated from their overnight highs following another round of disappointing data from China. This time, it was the Foreign Direct Investment report, which revealed a 1.8% decline (previous -0.4%), leading to concerns about a potential hard landing.

The ... More