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Company: Bissell Homecare
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Bissell
Ad Title: Neatnik Biker
Business Category: Appliances
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: Campbell-Ewald Advertising
Year: 2002
Target: Mainstream
Ad Spotter: Peter Reid
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Theme(s)

Gay Vague

Leatherman

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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A handsome, tough biker is the benevolent "den mother" of a bike club house. This bald, gentle giant has rippling muscles and wears a goatee, along with requisite leather attire.

"I love to keep a clean club," he says, then reminds one of the less thoughtful upon entering, "Wipe your feet!"

"But the boys get so rambunctious sometimes." Several of the men in the living room then shout and spill their drinks, suggesting a sports event -- not the figure skating they're actually watching. It's the first of several jokes about the incongruous, non-masculine traits the men are showing.

The biker continues, "So I got myself the Pro-heat, Protech beauty. It's the only one that cleans and provides Scotchgard protection, all in one beautiful machine." He rolls the machine past a biker sitting on the white carpet, as he does needle-pointing next to a poodle. Another biker is sitting at the table, arranging a vase of flowers. Not your usual bikers!

Oblivious, he goes on about the vacuum much like he might the features of a motorbike, as 1950s-style music plays lightly. "It's got this exclusive built-in heater that makes hot tap water up to 25 degrees hotter -- mom always said hot water cleans better -- so it can really get in and thoroughly clean. Better than the other guys. It's even got a speedometer to tell how fast to go, to clean best."

One biker rides by on his cycle inside the house. Casually, the housekeeper simply says, "Animals. But fortunately, I've got Scotchgard protection." Then he takes his mug of fruit smoothie and meets the other's mug, spilling onto the rug. It easily cleans up.

As he sits on the rug and rubs it with a somewhat feminine affectation and happy sigh, he closes by saying, "It'll put any neatnik in hog-heaven."

This commercial is charming and low key. While it does not directly address gayness, it implies it through the subtle actions of the bikers in the background and the cleanly "neatnik" -- a trait usually considered as "gay." But the deft handling keeps the ad from focusing on gay stereotypes, and instead plays more broadly with masculinity.

"The creative strategy was to highlight the relationship people have with their Bissell products," explains Cindy Sikorsky, executive VP-creative director at the ad agency, Campbell Ewald. "This is a role-reversal idea and I wanted to show the product in an unexpected situation to break through the clutter" -- industry-speak for getting attention. "So we asked, 'What's the most insane situation we could represent?' We were trying to do the opposite of what you'd expect in a biker club and taking it to the extreme." White carpets and all.

Sikorsky says that "it was interesting casting for this role (of bikers). We had ZZTop looking guys to hefty, overweight sorts. But this guy had a personality that appealed to everyone. " She adds that "the client preferred that he be good looking too."

The actor and ad both did well with the target audience, women 25-54 years old, in pretesting. It seems the biker, who is well liked in the gay leather community as well, will also grace Times Square in a larger than life billboard.

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Peter , Nyack, NY
The ad is great! It leaves it up to the target audience to make their own decisions. Now, is the target audience housewives or gay men?

Alessandro Cintoli , Rome
I am sorry to disagree but this ad seems more gay positive than gay vague or neutral to me. Has anyone ever heard of muscle bears or gay truckers? Well, here's a cross section of them, and it's pretty cool that at least ONE of them is a neatnik! Such a pity you can't take HIM home along with the cleaner! :-)

Mark , Los Angeles
Oh, it's gay alright... and campy!

Larry , Los Angeles
Thank you so much for having this ad on your site!! I've been trying to find it on the web ever since I saw it on TV. On first sight, this guy hit every button I have. I'd love to go on a date with him if he's single :-).

Lisa , Madison, WI
I love the ad. I'm in your target audience. I'll buy a Bissell. I hope he comes along with it.....

Phil Kuhlman , W Chester, PA
This ad (because of the guy) turns me on big-time. It's also just a fun, cute ad. I'm using his picture, whoever he is, as wallpaper.

Barb , Grand Forks, ND
I found your website while doing a search of the Bissell commercial. I was just curious who the main actor is, since he sort of seems familiar and I am a bug about actors and finding them in interesting places, e.g. commercials. Anyhow, I fail to see just what this has to do with gayness, or not. It's just a commercial. Why does everything have to be an issue about offending someone?

Angela , Providence, RI
I think this ad is very gay positive!! I find that it is not overtly gay (no ass slapping or kissing, etc.) but the stereotypes are depicted as "gay". I don't think they are depicted in a bad way either. I mean, it's a very friendly enviroment, no one is threatened, and this guy is psyched about his Bissel cleaner!! Ha!! I only wish I could take him home to keep my house clean!!

Greg , Spring Hill, WV
My partner and I just have to snicker everytime we see this ad! He's SO leatherbear it HURTS! Can you say WOOF? A hilarious commercial, to be sure.

Bill , Indianapolis
It's a cute commercial with cute guys. So what? But Barb from ND...just chill a little. No one is making it a political debate. We're just having fun with it. Man, people...you all got's to chill. I'm just glad to see the humor. Laugh a little, you'll feel better.

Mike J. , Phoenix
I LOVE this ad!! It reminds me of the deoderant commercials with the guys from WWF! These guys might be gorillas that could break you in half, but EVERYONE has a soft side. It doesn't matter if you are gay or straight you can still appreciate that fact. I don't see this ad as being targeted toward gays, but that guy will certainly grab their attention!

Rob , Greenville, SC
Never thought I'd find a vacuum cleaner commercial sexy! WOOF!!!

Al , Rochester, MN
I think this ad is great. I don't take it as gay! Is he 'bald' or 'shaved'? I'd like to see the infomercial!

Tom , San Diego
Who is this guy? He's the most handsome guy in the world! I melt whenever it comes on, especially when he carresses the carpet at the end.

Rich , Belle Mead, NJ
I love this ad and the full infomercial featuring this actor--WOOF, indeed. He also appeared the other night on a TV show called "Dog Eat Dog" as a contestant and his name there was "Paul". I love the fact that it's not overtly gay but anyone in the know can see the connection. And, there is no real part of it where I feel like he is being made to look goofy--just cute but still manly. Can I take him home with me? What a stud, but one you'd want to get to know too!

Spike , Santa Monica, CA
That biker dude is totally hot! Bissell should sell the Times Square billboard image as a poster, I'd buy one.

Randy , Atlanta, GA
Hey, I think this guys name is Paul. He was a contestant recently on DAWG EAT DAWG and is a VERY hot man. Wish he was in GA, I'd be happy to find out personally if he's "gay friendly".

K. , Cincinnati
This guy has been hitting the reality game show circuit quite heavily. I have seen him on 'Blind Date', 'The 5th wheel', 'Shipmates', 'StreetSmarts' and just the other night on 'Dog Eat Dog'. On all of these shows he has said that he is a professional wrestler with the WWE or whatever it is called these days. On the shows I've seen him on he seems very friendly and charismatic. He is VERY agressive though. On the dating shows he wastes no time asking the ladies how soon they can have sex. If they decline his requests he just doesn't give up and therefore always gets dumped. I always feel so sorry for him because he seems like a really sweet guy, he just needs to learn a little restraint. I hope we see more of Mr. Paul whether it be on commercials, reality shows or whatever. He is very likable and entertaining.

Joshua , West Palm Beach, FL
The guy's name is Paul Vinson; he was on an ESPN2 series called "The Wild Rules." And [i]oh my god[/i], is he gorgeous! It's nice to see a gay vague (I think gay!) character that doesn't look like Will or Jack or one of the Fab 5. [i]Nothing against them [/i], of course, but come on-- let's mix it up a little.

Anonymous , Oroville, CA
They call this ad "charming and low key." However, if it had specified that the "den mother" biker was in fact gay, then Commercial Closet would be howling about "stereotypes and disrespect." Sometimes I'm not even sure they know what they want to see in a commercial. Personally I didn't like the commercial because it was slow and not funny, but that's just my opinion.

G.R. , Jackson Heights, NY
This guy is unbelievable. Since I first saw this commercial, I have been looking for it for over a year. We have a Paul Vinson Fan Club.

Randy , Middletown, NY
WOW, This guy is hot and what a bear, WOOF!! I am glad that this commercial kind of shows a gay vague look at "tough guys", people who don't wear lycra and are stereotypically "gay". Here is a bear that everyone just loves!

Barbara , Santa Fe, NM
I chuckled out loud the first time I saw this commercial. I found the humor engaging and the gender-bending clever without being insulting. Subtle? Hardly.

Duncan Cooper , Shotley Bridge, County Durham, UK
I absolutely LOVED this ad! The actor is MY kind of man. A humerous advert that "takes the micky" out of usually thought of BUTCH men. I'd ask HIM round to vacuum my floor anyday!!

Ronald Sproul , Charleston, SC
I think that this was one of my favorite commercials because of the hot biker doing the ad.

Barbara , Santa Fe, NM
I chuckled out loud the first time I saw this commercial. I found the humor engaging and the gender-bending clever without being insulting. Subtle? Hardly.

Duncan Cooper , Shotley Bridge, UK
I love this advertisement. I agree with other comments made about the main guy--he's a dish! Not like most bears though, not all of them enjoy keeping their homes that clean. I would also love to have this guy down on all fours cleaning my carpet with his Bissel!

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