Last May, a Cheerios ad featuring a multi-racial family went viral. Its fans held it up as a sign of long-overdue demographic changes in advertising, and as with seemingly anything on the Internet, its detractors felt the need to make racist comments about it.
Within that context, it is easy to be jaded about Swiffer’s new commercial, which features the Rukavina family. The mum is black and the dad is white and an amputee. And as a bonus, he’s the one doing the household cleaning, not his wife. At first glance, it seems like a corny attempt by a casting director to create the perfect ad to start an Internet discussion.
The Rukavina family is real, however, and has had a career in the media. The commercial, like the rest of the family’s television history, is primarily about the father, Zack, adjusting his life to losing his left arm to cancer:
Publicis Kaplan Thaler, the ad agency behind it, was certainly looking to get the cleaning brand attention through a “progressive” commercial, and it succeeded. This could have come across as obnoxious, but the final product is a sweet look at a family with a dad who can especially benefit from the product advertised.
Zack proposed to his wife Afi in 2012 on the Yahoo web series “Ultimate Surprises,” and has appeared in television shows like “Switched At Birth.” His family also appeared in a dramatized documentary about his life as an amputee.
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