Have you seen the new ad from a famous if not the most selling detergent powder brand? How it reinforces the “housewife” stereotype – a woman, who does the laundry for the entire house – and is always very excited about the detergent. Not that there’s anything wrong with women wanting to do the laundry but why in every other detergent ad are women shown as if they are meant to do laundry for the whole household? Can’t men do laundry? What’s happening in one of the ads is that there is the map of Pakistan showing women from everywhere in the country are using this specific brand. In the foreground is a famous celebrity who ends the ad with the question “when are you trying” in Urdu with the gender specific verb referring to women only. Then there’s another one that shows a woman going from working at a restaurant as manager to becoming a “daughter-in-law” who is now washing clothes. The woman is so impressed with the restaurant manager’s knowledge about stains and detergents that she had to bring her home as her daughter-in-law. It’s unclear whether she continues working but if I had to guess, she probably stopped. What’s wrong with the ads, one might ask. Well, the whole concept is worth taking an issue with, in my opinion and I think that everyone should. The ads reinforce the gender stereotype. They are essentially saying in the subliminal message that this is where the women belong. Doing laundry for the household. I understand the concept of target market and since most of these brands target middle class homemaker women, their ad agencies ensure all their ad concepts for the good ol’ detergent powder are surrounded by just that, homemaker women. And this is also a harsh reality that as a patriarchal society, most women from the working class households are expected to perform a certain set of responsibilities while staying in the fold of stereotypical role of their gender. In that strict sense, an adperson could argue that their advertising strategies cater to the specific audiences and so are a mere reflection of the mirror. But this ought to change. These big brands and advertisers also have a responsibility towards the society. And no, not just the theatrics committed in the name of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We need more. We need the ads to be groundbreaking. The ads that challenge the social ills of the society. There are some good examples as well. For example, one of the same brands did a social campaign toward the end of last year where they questioned enforcement of labels but that campaign was centered around the social media only and it would have helped if the same campaign ran as aggressively as these ads today are. How about a campaign that also shows men doing laundry? Isn’t it time for that?