I’m much too late in seeing this ad, but recently, a World Without Torture supporter e-mailed us a link to an atrocious advert from Woolite, a laundry detergent company.
‘Don’t let detergents torture your clothes’ says Woolite, a subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser, in an advertisement that mocks the experiences of torture and takes the misuse of this term to a tragic low.
This statement follows several scenes of a masked man, trudging through muddy paths, pulling a jumper on a Medieval style stretcher, and dipping other clothes into boiling water. You can watch the full 30-second commercial below.
Directed by famed musician, director, and horror film enthusiast Rob Zombie, the commercial is at best, gimmicky and tacky, and at worst, reveals a disturbing lack of awareness of the reality of torture. Despite using motifs and torture methods associated with the middle ages, the reality is that torture is still used today – more than 90% of countries around the world use torture, estimates international torture experts.
Most significantly, it’s likely that a torture survivor would actually see this ad. Up to a third of asylum seekers to European and North American countries – such as the U.S. where this commercial was targeted – have been tortured. Re-traumatisation of the torture victim, who happens upon this ad during a seemingly banal evening of TV viewing, is among the possibilities of such callous usages of the term ‘torture.’
Regardless, while the misuse of the term torture (as we previously wrote about) is degrading the reality of torture victims experiences, this ad takes this many steps too far. The Woolite ad makes it seem as if torture only occurred during the middle ages, a part of uncivilized history, rather than a current problem; and then cruelly demonstrating torture to sell… laundry detergent. Woolite should be ashamed.
Have you seen any other videos, advertisements or commercials like this, that use the torture experience to sell things? If so, please send them to us.