Peter York on Ads: It arouses my Desperate Housewife

Flash
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The Independent Online

Flash was an original wonder-product, a bit of P&G fmcg that really performed. In the 1960sit was advertised with an actress called Molly Weir demonstrating the Flash effect, which was to cut a very visible swathe through dirt on floors. Molly Weir was extremely Scottish and familiar from her role as a sitcom housekeeper - cleanliness and godliness.

Flash was an original wonder-product, a bit of P&G fmcg that really performed. In the 1960sit was advertised with an actress called Molly Weir demonstrating the Flash effect, which was to cut a very visible swathe through dirt on floors. Molly Weir was extremely Scottish and familiar from her role as a sitcom housekeeper - cleanliness and godliness.

Flash appeared to eat dirt and grease. It did it so well that people often wondered whether it was eating their walls and floors too. And perhaps their hands. And the name was brilliant - it worked fast and you could see it working.

But the great sweep of history makes modest miracles into commodities, buried under layers of more complex 21st-century categories like photo-phones and home liposuction kits. You can't expect anyone to get worked up about a floor cleaner now. Desperate Housewives want so much more.

Now, however, it's gone full circle. Cleaning has become a bit hobbyist, a bit value-added and self-expressive. Often in kitchen suppers off Ladbroke Grove you'll hear a dynamic lady investment banker tell you how she likes to clean; what a release it is to restore order to a small dark world. And there are those women on TV with the rubber gloves. And The Sun's recent major exposé on naked vacuuming.

So it's time for the Flash line extensions. Here's the new Flash Duster which cleans everywhere dirt settles - trapping dust and locking it away. It cleans here - appliances - and here - a toy robot which lights up and swivels its head, clearly a sexual metaphor; and here - between venetian blinds. Then it dusters off squeezing between ornaments and photo-frames. It can do anything.

The final shot - can the teenage creatives possibly know just how resonant this is? - is a sparkling swathe cut in a dusty table-top. My inner Desperate Housewife is strangely roused.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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