Cross racial stereotypes off your list. The maid is of no particular race

Here’s an excellent idea for a promotion for Olay created by Arnold Furnace. Win a cleaner for a year.

Or, as Dr Mumbo’s correspondent puts it:  “Relax white woman.. while Asian woman cleans your lovely home…”

Naturally, a P&G spokesperson begs to differ, issuing the following comment:

Olay is a brand enjoyed by women of all races around the world and is designed with the skincare needs of all women in mind. The image you reference in the ‘win a cleaner’ promotion in no way depicts a particular race and the women is in fact blurred so as not to identify with a particular demographic.”

And just to help P&G clear up this misunderstanding, is anybody able to find the original picture in a stock image library?


  1. Amelia
    1 Feb 12
    4:54 pm

  2. Google safe image search returns this

  3. Alison_F
    1 Feb 12
    5:06 pm

  4. The background image can be easily found on Getty Images – the image number is AA040730.
    I can’t tell from the low-res what her exact ethnicity is and it doesn’t seem to specify in the description… but I’d bet Filipino…
    Hilarious little story, though, especially seeing the link above too!

  5. Raceless and faceless
    1 Feb 12
    5:11 pm

  6. Getty images – “Maid cleaning hotel suite, side view”

    Her face is still blurred in the original.

  7. Brendon
    1 Feb 12
    5:14 pm

  8. Methinks a bit of a stretch and a bit too sensitive with that one.

    What next?? How dare they depict a woman cleaning, why not a man?
    How dare they show her with a book. Offensive to the illiterate.

  9. tweebs
    1 Feb 12
    5:26 pm

  10. Slow news day?

  11. alex
    1 Feb 12
    5:41 pm

  12. you can hardly tell shes asian.
    its only the people who are afraid of people finding out theyre racist who notice this kind of thing

  13. loyalty flee
    1 Feb 12
    6:06 pm

  14. i like the controversy…..might stop tight-ass clients not shooting their own stuff and instead relying on stock libraries which tend to be based on cliches and stereotypes.

    P&G should have just said “we used a stock shot so we could spend more money on the prize” rather than the PC jibberish they issued.

  15. Neil
    1 Feb 12
    6:30 pm

  16. This ‘seeing the racism in everything’ storyline is getting very tedious

  17. Lee Lutgarda Pendleton
    1 Feb 12
    6:48 pm

  18. No big deal…

  19. Patrick
    1 Feb 12
    7:00 pm

  20. I can tell her race: human.

  21. jean cave
    1 Feb 12
    7:52 pm

  22. Cleaner should be wearing a hat over hair . . problem solved.

    *I must be a galloping racist by this account, as I immediately thought Indonesian.
    However what a great idea for a prize.

  23. X
    1 Feb 12
    10:25 pm

  24. Marketing has so much casual racism every day its kind of funny people think it doesn’t.

  25. mish
    2 Feb 12
    10:35 am

  26. that comes across as an asian looking blur to me….

  27. Frances
    2 Feb 12
    11:24 am

  28. “I can tell her race: human.”

    Oh SHUT UP. We are not in a post-race society, and this is such a whitewashing comment.

  29. Devil's advocaat
    2 Feb 12
    12:55 pm

  30. She’s also “Domestic helper” on Zurich’s Hong Kong website:

    I see this more as a cliche than racism.

  31. JayZ
    2 Feb 12
    1:34 pm

  32. Bugger what race she is. Why is she opening an umbrella indoors?

  33. Brett
    2 Feb 12
    2:00 pm

  34. Has anyone had a look at the proportion of non-Caucasian people working in the domestic cleaning sector in Australia? Let’s just say the ratio makes this image look like truth in advertising. If people are offended by the racist overtones then perhaps their energy might be better directed at addressing the socio-economic factors behind this fact rather than sniping about a photo that dares reflect such a reality.

  35. fraser
    2 Feb 12
    2:25 pm

  36. spot on @ Brett

  37. Alison_F
    2 Feb 12
    2:43 pm

  38. @Brett… just cos it’s the ‘norm’ doesn’t necessarily make it right. Advertising is responsible for some of the most dire stereotypes around and I think this is an example of one – maybe not racist – but a pretty simple, ‘first thought’ stereotype all the same. From stereotyping, comes the possibility of racial/gender/sexuality based assumptions and generalisations. Certainly, this is hardly worth getting all upset over, but we should all be aware of lazy work that lives in ‘stereotype land’…

  39. Karl Marx
    2 Feb 12
    2:54 pm

  40. Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains

  41. Anonymous
    2 Feb 12
    2:59 pm

  42. So if its not racism, is it sexism? Boys can clean too, no?

  43. Mr Brainwash
    2 Feb 12
    3:41 pm

  44. Three ladies come to clean our house each week for sixty bucks. They’re all Asian. Doesn’t mean all cleaners are Asian. Imagine the outrage if the lady in the picture was black. There’s a reason a movie like The Help is powerful. Stereotypes and cliches generally exist because they are representative of what we’ve come to expect and accept. Surely there are more awful ads to throw shit on?

  45. Alison_F
    2 Feb 12
    3:55 pm

  46. @Mr Brainwash…
    I doubt I would be boasting about having 3 women come to clean one’s house for $60… I am praying that you mean they each get $60???
    And I can’t see your point regarding using a black woman in the background as opposed to an asian woman… on one hand you believe it would be offensive (ie using a black woman), on the other you are saying that it’s perfectly acceptable because it reflects your reality. Weird.

  47. Fafi
    2 Feb 12
    4:21 pm

  48. Urgh, snore. Some asians are pilots. Some asians are Account Managers, and some asians are cleaners… and can someone remind me what is wrong with being a cleaner?

    If anything, it’s demaning to cleaners out there suggesting that being a cleaner is undesirable. The woman of no defined race with black hair has a job. Yay! Would a company be racist if it’s advertisments depicted men with black hair, tanned skin and blurred faces who may or may not be asian as business men. I think not.

  49. Fafi
    2 Feb 12
    4:22 pm

  50. Hear, Hear Mr Brainwash!

  51. Fafi
    2 Feb 12
    4:27 pm

  52. @JayZ, that is a duster, not an umbrella. I reckon you might need a cleaner given you didn’t know that. Try these guys – Their stockphoto is of a pretty blonde girl, so a well rounded affair and hopefully noone will be offended.

  53. Offended Asian
    2 Feb 12
    4:27 pm

  54. The only time we’re (yes I am Asian) ever in ads is if its a bank (because we’re good at maths?), Bing Lee for obvious reasons or in a stereotypical role like a cleaner. God forbid one day one of us will be in an ad just as a regular person, buying a car or shaving or putting on sunscreen. Too much to ask?

  55. extra polish
    2 Feb 12
    4:36 pm

  56. hey Mr Brainwash, do you get a happy ending from your 3 cleaners?

  57. Not_Offended
    2 Feb 12
    4:45 pm

  58. @Offended Asian, whenever I am in Asian countries, most of the ads feature Asian people, not caucasian, and I am never offended.

  59. Blue
    2 Feb 12
    5:10 pm

  60. If they wanted to stick up for the discriminated against, they should have an indigenous, gay, vegan, jewish, disabled, asian, Liverpool-supporting Prime Minister sat on the sofa instead of that woman.

    PS I have a Korean cleaner. She leaves the place clean enough for Kim-Jong Un to eat his dinner off. It’s not racist if it’s a compliment, right?

  61. laird
    2 Feb 12
    5:11 pm

  62. The ad designer seems to have had little original thought if their ad was merging two separate images together.
    The racial implication may be unconscious in the designer’s mind, but is a dog whistle to Caucasian women.
    The ad clearly shows who the advertiser thinks is superior and who is inferior in role and in life – even if only because of winning a competition.
    This dog whistle ad may have its defenders but is culturally insensitive and indicates an agency and a client that is careless about its messages to the one in five women in Australia who are not of Caucasian background and looks.
    But perhaps Olay has research to say only Caucasians are its prospects and customers, or maybe they don’t mind seeking only a 4/5ths market rather than the whole 5/5ths market that could be available.

  63. Brett
    2 Feb 12
    6:59 pm

  64. @Alison_F, I would argue there is a notable distinction between entrenching unnecessary stereotypes (such as peddling images of the “good housewife” in an era of working mothers) and simply observing a demographic fact, as the above is doing.

  65. gee
    2 Feb 12
    8:34 pm

  66. hilarious. They should repeat the ad with a male, several different coloured groups and the woman on the couch. Go for it

  67. bandit
    3 Feb 12
    1:57 pm

  68. Totally agree with @Fafi about cleaners being a fine vocational choice. You can have your own business, work your own hours and who the hell are all of you people to say that being a cleaner makes you somehow less of a person.
    Add to that, the ad is directed at a bunch of women who can’t even pay for their own cleaner and therefore have to win it, all while using their supermarket brand of face cream.

  69. Rip-Off Red
    3 Feb 12
    2:01 pm

  70. Yeah — I mean, who cares about brown ‘people’ and their ‘feelings’ anyway? It’s not as if they’re _really_ people.

  71. Offal Spokesperson
    6 Feb 12
    1:52 pm

  72. cmon people, advertising is based on demographics and stereotyping, it may disgust us but if your in advertising you are part of it.

    This ad is not racist. the bigger issue is the holier than thou attitude about cleaners that seems to be demonstrated by some of the posters here.

    You do know that you are JUST in advertising, you actually arent saving the world or changing the political landscape, your just flogging some more overpriced crap to the sheep.