Why Sheryl Sandberg Is Applauding This Detergent Commercial

You might not expect the founder of the “Lean In” movement to call an ad for laundry soap one of the “most powerful videos” she’s ever seen, but that’s exactly how Sheryl Sandberg described detergent company Ariel’s new spot.

It’s not hard to see why Sandberg was impressed. The ad, aimed at consumers in India, calls out traditional gender roles that see women managing not just full-time jobs but also the vast majority of household tasks—while their husbands relax after a long day at work. In the commercial, a woman simultaneously handles a work call, cleans up her house, cares for her child and makes tea for her husband. Her father, who is playing with his grandchild, observes the inequality in the relationship and apologizes to his daughter for setting a bad example in his own marriage. “Sorry on behalf of every dad who set the wrong example,” he says. “But it’s not too late.”

Wrote Sandberg on Facebook,

This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen—showing how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed from generation to generation. When little girls and boys play house they model their parents’ behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams.

Ariel, a Procter & Gamble company, released this spot last week. Then, Sandberg got wind of it and shared it on Facebook where it immediately went viral; it has garnered more than 7.5 million views since Wednesday.

The video helped launched Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign, which encourages men to take on more household chores. It’s a great move, considering women around the world do exponentially more unpaid work than do men. So much so that Melinda Gates declared this week in her annual letter outlining the philanthropic priorities of the Gates Foundation that she’ll be tackling “time poverty” in 2016.

Wrote Gates,

Globally, women spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on unpaid work. Men spend less than half that much time. But the fact is that the burden of unpaid work falls heaviest on women in poor countries, where the hours are longer and the gap between women and men is wider. In India, to take one example, women spend about 6 hours, and men spend less than 1 hour.

The #ShareTheLoad campaign asks the question: “Why is laundry only a mother’s job?” and encourages men to rethink their roles at home. It’s a great start—now let’s see if men pick up the slack.


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.