At one time, detergents promised only to make things cleaner, fresher and whiter. Now they have grander ambitions. Daz, for instance, is a 'soap you can believe in', while Bold 2in1 (a detergent-cum-conditioner) claims to be fundamental to existence. Grey London's slogan, introduced to television viewers in 2004, is a pun, but a clumsy one: detergent isn't part of a fabric. 'Caring for the fabric of life' would have been better. Even so, that fabric is not to be sniffed at. A central metaphor of Western life, it comes from the Greek myth of the three Fates, who spin the thread of an individual's existence. Woven together, principally through marriage, the threads create the 'fabric of life'. But life in these ads is more complicated. Here's a lone dad, expertly washing his three daughters' clothes. And here's a young lad, all Oedipal anxiety, quickly washing a cardigan for his mum when he finds her in a low-cut frock, about to go out. These days, the fabric of life tends to be a little frayed at the edges.
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