Lynx “Clean your balls” with Sophie Monk.

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I used to think that Lynx prided themselves in clever advertising.

Lynx have built a brand around the promise to pre-pubescent boys that using Lynx makes you irresistible to the opposite sex.

This has been done with wit, irreverence and a clever tongue in cheek sense of humour to the most part.

This latest work featuring Sophie Monk (a red flag in itself) was directly, scene for scene, copied from an existing AXE ad in the US? Surely just looking at the US effort would force you to question the merits of this campaign, not encourage you to repeat the mistake?

The online ad exploits the hilarious double entendre of the phrase ‘clean your balls’ as Sophie Monk demonstrates the grime-removal strength of Lynx gel on “hairy balls” (tennis balls), “saggy balls” (deflated medicine balls) and an African American man’s “big ball sack” (a netted bag of soccer balls).

3 minutes of the same puerile joke.

No sitting on the fence, no excuses, it is an absolute shocker.

It was done in conjunction with ZOO magazine and is described as

“provocative, tongue-fully-planted-in-cheek campaign”.

Really?

I think they got it very wrong.

Even more amazing when you also consider that the ‘Clean your balls’ campaign follows Lynx’s controversial ‘Rules of rugby’ campaign which was removed at the behest of the Advertising Standards Bureau last year after complaints that it objectified women.

Collective Shout, a lobby group that campaigns against the sexualisation of advertising, has put in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Tankard Reist, co-founder of Collective Shout said that:

“objectifying women” in these “hyper-sexualised scenes” is actually harmful, adding: “They contribute to an ongoing second-class status of women.”

There is a big difference between “sexy advertising” or irreverent tongue in cheek humour and bad taste and there is no excuse for suggesting that this is what the target responds to. A few people have used this generalisation in support of the work. It actually suggests a level of disregard for the target’s ability to comprehend a clever piece of advertising and justifies cheap work that throws the industry back 10 years.

Previous Lynx work (ref Angels or Anarchy House or Snow Angles ) is far superior to this effort, generating a much more aspirational and positive brand image and Unilever should prepare themselves for a trade (if not consumer) backlash.

As Mumbrella said:

One hundred and eighty seconds around one double innuendo. Somebody had to come home from work knowing that they made this”. 

Dee Madigan, the respected creative director of Madigan Communications and a panellist on ABC1’s The Gruen Transfer, said the Lynx ”cleans your balls” advertisement was suited to its target audience.

”Young males like to go against the grain,” she said. ”Doing something sexist and offensive, that’s kind of the strategy.”

I couldn’t disagree more. This is confusing irreverence with irrevocable bad taste and poor advertising, defended by a lack of insight on the target. Industry figures should strive for a smarter, aspirational solution otherwise the industry will continue to be derided by on-lookers.

Not what the brand or industry needs and surely Sophie Monk isn’t that desperate to get work?

And as a postscript, the advert has (finally!) been censured after a slew of complaints to the ad watchdog.

Bizarrely, the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) decided that the ad was not derogatory to women, but said

“with the exception of the depiction of the older man, the depictions were not offensive or demeaning to any person or section of society”.

Not so sure myself!

The Board noted the concerns that the advertisement is offensive and discriminates against elderly men in particular as it refers to their “old saggy balls not being played with for years”.

The Board considered that the older man is depicted in a negative manner with the inference in the advertisement being that the older man does not receive any attention due to his age. The Board considered that this is a negative depiction of an older person and that this depiction does amount to discrimination against older men.”

In response to the findings Unilever said:

“The men who appear in the commercial are representative of a wide range of age groups, from young to old, and all of them are portrayed in a humorous and good-natured way. It was never the intention of the commercial to discriminate against  elderly people”

The elderly man is an object of ridicule. Unilever should not try to defend the indefensible.

A classic case of misinterpreting “irreverence” and “tongue in cheek” and stereotyping men and women – not clever work at all.

But if Unilever are repentant it is interesting to see them respond to the censure of the ‘clean your balls’ ad with a new online video featuring a mock press conference loaded with more dirty ball references

This is a desperate brand attempt to be funny and a further replication of the US mistake. For such an occasionally great brand it is a massive error of judgement.
And not funny. Perhaps the ASB will agree.

Lynx Anarchy Invisible ad in Sydney House

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Lynx have been successfully using activation stunts to great effect (ref Virtual Fallen Angels posted earlier).

They get the technology and apply it in a way that drives the PR around the brand and builds brand fame. Even after all these years it still breaks new ground with innovative ideas and causes a stir.

This keeps it fresh and relevant to the target and is integrated into the creative in more traditional media work.

Soap were responsible for this and ECD Brad Eldridge said: “We wanted to create something as disruptive and innovative as the product itself. We used a clever hack combining LCD screens and polaroid glasses to create something that extends the campaign in an innovative and unique way.”

The Lynx Effect Party Across the Internet. True On-line Innovation!

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Lynx Shower Gel for men is being promoted in Australia with an interesting interactive web experience, “The Lynx Effect Party Across the Internet”.

This really needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.

It is consistent with the brand as well as being relevant, interesting and motivating to the target market of teenage boys to men (i.e. parties, girls and macho fantasy)

Anti Hangover, Shock and Fever Shower Gel provide the colours and fragrances for a range of male fantasy experiences, on-line at www.partyacrosstheinternet.com.au.

Users are swept through experiences at men’s magazine Ralph, surf magazine QuiksilverPro, MySpace and video site Heavy.com before landing at the Lynx Effect Facebook page.

The campaign includes the Lynx Party Pix Party facebook application, and is linked with lynxeffect.com.au and lynxeffect.co.nz.

Click here to kick it off: www.partyacrosstheinternet.com.au

This is truly innovative and brings new creative thinking to an established on-line medium.

Soap Creative are the agency behind it with media by Universal McCann. Thanks also to The Inspiration Room for an early post.