I buy hardware supplies…

No Tools Allowed - by johnscotthaydon, on Flickr

Red 'banned' symbol over the word 'Tools' in black lettering. The word is positioned diagonally starting from the bottom left hand corner of the image. Image by johnscotthaydon on Flickr, used under a creative commons licence.

… and it looks like Selleys doesn’t want my business.

I saw this ad on television this evening:


[A conventionally good-looking mid-thirtiesish apparently white man with no apparent disability is putting sealing around a sink in a kitchen. A conventionally good-looking mid-thirtieshish apparently white woman with no apparent disability walks up behind him.]
Woman: Oh, that’s great.
Man: Yeah, it’s all sealed. [He turns to face her.]
Woman: Sealed! [embarrassed laughter, which continues into the next scene, where the man is gluing a skirting board onto a wall in what seems to be a living room; the woman is standing and watching him]
[Cut to the next scene, where the man is putting sealant around a door frame. The woman walks through the doorway. The camera pans out; we see that she is holding two cups of tea and the door has the name “Thomas” in wooden cartoon lettering – it appears to be a child’s room.]
Woman: Hi. Tea?
Man: For me?
[crosstalk] Woman: Here. Man: Great, thanks. [The woman hands him a mug]
[crosstalk] Man: So what should we – Woman: What time –
[embarrassed laughter]
Woman: I’ll let you get back to it. She turns and walks out of the room. [The man cranes his head around the door frame and watches as she, presumably, walks down the hallway then turns to the camera and speaks in a confidential manner] Do you really want me hanging out at your house when you’re at work? [with eyebrows raised]
Off-camera voice: Do it yourself, before someone does it for you. [Ad cuts to product name, which the off-camera voice reads out]

I actually didn’t notice the ad at first when I saw it on TV – until close to the end. You can probably guess which bit I tuned in on.

When I looked for it on YouTube, I found a second ad, involving the same two people:


[The ad starts with a black shiny ute outside a large house. The ad cuts to a bathroom, where the man is putting sealant around the glass door on a shower. The woman comes in.]
Woman: You have no idea how long it’s been. [small embarrassed laugh] I’ve been asking my husband to do it for ages, so …
Man: Well, it’s all done now.
Woman: Great!
Man: You’ll be able to use the shower in a couple of hours.
Woman: Oh, couple of hours?
Man: Yeah, yeah [not looking at her].
Woman: I’ll get you some lunch then. [she turns around and walks out of frame]
Man: [quietly, as the woman turns around, watching her walk out] Oh thanks a lot, I brought some lunch… [he looks after her for a couple more moments, with an “I’m in” look on his face, then turns to the camera] Do you really want me hanging out at your house when you’re at work? [with eyebrows raised]
Off-camera voice: Do it yourself, before someone does it for you. [Ad cuts to product name, which the off-camera voice reads out]

The implication is clear. According to Selleys:

(1) Only men do handy-person jobs around the house (and therefore only men will buy Selleys products).
(2) A man who doesn’t do handy-person jobs around the house is not a real man.
(3) Women are wives are objects to be “done” who, if their owner is not a real man, will fall into the hands of (be “done” by) the first real man who comes along.

As I said, I don’t think Selleys wants my business.


Categories: media

Tags: , ,

19 replies

  1. This is a glaring example of women as the “sex class”. I’d never heard this expression before reading Twisty (I’m a self-taught Blamer), but it’s so expressive of how we’re presented in our culture.

  2. I saw this ad last night as well and my mind boggled! Just so wrong on so many levels. Especially the clear implication you note in point three.

  3. Helen – yes. What astonishes me (Maj, my mind is still boggling) is that this ad could have been considered acceptable and desirable as an expression of the company’s values.

  4. That commercial was SO much worse than I thought it would be… and I thought I had prepared myself before watching it.
    When I see commercials like this all I can think is, “What is marketing THINKING? And, more to the point, why hasn’t anyone FIRED them????” I can’t imagine anyone who vetted those commercials actually thought they would contribute *positively* to the company’s sales.

  5. Actually, this might just be me, but as an unattached woman, I thought, “Do I really want an asshat like this alone in my house with me?” The answer is no, I’ll fix it myself or ask my Dad for help.

  6. Julie – yeah, I wouldn’t want a guy like the one in the ad in my place, either – but part of my grievance with the ad is that it’s being unfair to all women and all men (including tradies, most of whom are, I would like to believe, nowhere near as sleazy as that – and, of course, some of whom are women).
    tekanji – do I need to put something in the post emphasising that the ads are worse than the transcripts might make them seem? I was wondering that as I did the transcripts, because I realised there was a lot of body language that I have not transcribed, but which affects the interpretation enormously.

  7. My mother was the handyperson when I was growing up and 20 years ago there was even less understanding of fluid gender roles than there is now. It made fathers day and mothers day gift buying tough because Mum was more interested in the tools advertised as advertised for her less than handy ex husband. My feminist youth self was outraged on her behalf but still trying to find a way to conform. These days I don’t care what selleys or anyone else says. I buy what suits Mum, and then cringe at ads like this and wish I hadn’t given them my business.

  8. Things like this make me realise the one good thing about living in rental accommodation: the lines of responsibility for household repairs are really straightforward. Basically, if it isn’t replacing lightbulbs or washers, it’s the landlord’s problem.
    That said, I’m turning into the one who Does Things around our house (mostly because the things which need to be Done are for the garden, which is very solidly my responsibility). Now I know which brand to keep an eye out for (and avoid) at Bunnings.

  9. Gawd, these ads are really over the top. Talk about playing on men’s sexual insecurities and yeah, as Helen said, women as sex class and nothing else.

  10. Slightly O/T – I also dislike the Cottee’s ad where the man says that he will change his name to Elizabeth if he’s wrong. Yep, he can’t think of anything more shaming than changing his name to that of a woman who does cordial taste tests in the supermarket. That ad is apparently supposed to sell cordial. Deriding women is just a bonus.

  11. Mindy – yes, isn’t that one terrible, too?
    Another one that annoys me is one for some kind of cereal. An apparently white, apparently able-bodied man delivers milk to a door. As he’s bending down to place the milk on the doorstep, the door opens, revealing a pair of high-heeled shoes and a pair of legs. The camera scans up the legs, up the rest of the person (in a dressing-gown), to a face which has a bobbed hairstyle, make-up which is a bit overdone and smudged in a “morning after” manner, wrinkles and a slight moustache. The person is apparently white and apparently able-bodied and I think we are meant to read hir as a trans* woman, but maybe as a man who is cross-dressing. Sie says in a husky voice, which is low for a woman but high for a man, in a flirtatious manner: “morning Johnny. Want to stay for breakfast?” (or something like that). From memory, “Johnny” sort of gulps and then says “ok” (after a cut to the cereal).
    The message seems to be: the cereal is so good you’d even hang out with (and maybe more) a trans* woman.
    Grrrr. What a terrible message.
    I hate arsevertising.

    • and I think we are meant to read hir as a trans* woman, but maybe as a man who is cross-dressing

      I hate that ad, but you know that interpretation never occurred to me. I thought it was just about a woman presented who had none of the conventional beauty attributes, because she was obviously wrinkled and hirsute, so that he’d even “do” a woman as rough as that for the breakfast cereal in question.
      Either interpretation is quite revolting though.

  12. Yeah, we’ve really “come a long way, baby” when an advertisng company and its client think that ads like those embedded above will be acceptable to half of their potential customer base.
    Know which brand I’ll be ignoring next time I visit the hardware store for DIY goods.

  13. Eww, eww, eww and also EWW.

    I read the transcripts first and those are STILL ickier than I expected. As a single disabled woman who spends most of my time alone and depends on tradies for all my home maintenance stuff, I am quite shaken by them actually. Thank the gods that none of my tradies are anything like that.

  14. I actually didn’t get the ads at first. I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say. At first I thought the guy was her husband, because in my experience, I see family members making coffee for friends and family. At first I thought it was that he was annoyed by the woman bothering him “Do you really want me hanging around while you’re at work?” I was foolish enough to think that he was talking to women. But no.
    A crawling, horrible realisation dawned on me – women were no part of this discussion. And that was not possible in my head, because I’ve been using Selley products for years, as has my father. I used them ALL the time in Sculpting class in art school. I mean, it’s a tube of gooey crap in a GUN. I’m trying to figure out what it is about it that makes it impossible for women to use, that it would only be marketed towards men.
    I am honestly confused, and really, really contemptuous of what they were actually saying with this commercial. Just – UGH. Creepy, gross, sexist, illogical, bizarre… UGH.

  15. PS – Wrote this letter to Selleys, I was so mad:
    My father has been a faithful Selleys customer for years, and in my career as an artist and sculptor, I have happily used Selleys products in my work.
    I was absolutely shocked and disgusted by the recent ad campaign for Selleys sealing products that is on TV right now, the slogan of which is “Do it yourself before it gets done for you.”
    The sleazy double entendre reduces women to something to be ‘done’. I am not something to be done. I’m a faithful customer who has used your products for years and is just as able to use your goo-guns as anyone else of a differing gender.
    I think I shall be buying these sorts of products from other companies in the future. It’d do Selleys well to remember that in this day and age, people from all backgrounds and of all genders use your products. Reducing any of them to chattel or the belongings of another is NOT good for business.

  16. Nice one Napalmnacey. Let’s see if it changes anything. I so hope so. I wonder if they all use the same ad agency?
    I’m about to speak to the NRMA to get me taken off their magazine mailing list. The back page of their magazine is for ‘people who want to be safe from the thought police’ which apparently means that the author can indulge in as much fat hate (in the current issue) as they want. I do.not.want. I will keep the after hours service call option but ditch the mag.

  17. I don’t know. I used to think it was all hopeless, but then a bunch of us angry women managed to get that horrible web-company ad off the air. So who knows. You can only try, I guess!
    I’m just trying to remember if there are other alternatives to Selleys. More than anything, I resent having to give up companies and look for new ones because it’s too much to ask, apparently, to be treated like a human being.

  18. There are alternatives, mostly cheaper and exactly the same product.

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