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.

Etihad “Why” campaign

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I like a mix of rational and emotional values in advertising.

I’m often looking for the rational message – the sell, presented in an entertaining and engaging way. This for me is the essence of good advertising.

Here’s a new spot for Etihad that offers you the promise that Etihad are better and invites you into some website answers. The site gives you some super facts and figures to support the reason why so many people switch to Etihad.

Things like:

  • 6,999,603 – the number of rewards redeemed by members of Etihad Guest, one of the world’s most flexible and generous loyalty programmes etc

But you need to click to find it. http://www.whyetihad.com/global/en/ once clicked this is a convincing site and could increase consideration of Etihad.

But it is very rational, a lot of facts and figures, very static and with no pictures of people on planes (…a bit obvious, but the best demonstration of in-flight service). Virgin Australia did a nice job of cramming in the facts to a very entertaining ad with premium appeal and pace.

The experience of flying is becoming commonplace, but people still need to feel it is an experience that they can enjoy rather than endure. It is still a service based industry.

How much more motivating if we were shown specifics of service in the Etihad spot? Or better still, if so many people have switched to Etihad, this is inviting advocacy statements from customers – one of the most powerful sales tools as seen with Emirates. My mum now swears by Emirates…economy not first class (…when is too much really too much!?)

Also no mention of sports on the website? By their own admission, Etihad is “mad about sports. We sponsor Manchester City Football Club, Harlequins Rugby Team, the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships.” 

As a part of their strategy this is a big plus to the large percentage of people who also love sports and worth mentioning (particularly at Man City and F1 prices…)

But back to the “click” strategy – in an age of immediacy, it needs to be a big promise (usually prizes) or intriguing question to get people to click and justify claims in an ad or to find out more about the product or service.

The proposition for the airlines is multi-faceted. Particularly profitable premium routes where it needs to combine price and service to give great value. Traveling 14 hours means you need some comfort, entertainment and service as well as an affordable ticket and the security of knowing it is a major carrier with all the safety and efficiency you expect.

A lot of these answers are there (even if the in-flight experience isn’t best explained), but I think if you are making a big statement such as “people prefer us”, it makes the statement more effective to qualify it there and then in the ad. This ad could have had multiple variants which answered the “why” with a few of the reasons.

One argument for the “click and go” strategy could be the global usage and language variants, but advertising works pretty much the same way in any language. Asking consumers to click into a website to justify the claim is tough.

The casting (particulalry the sun bathing couple?) and CGI in the ad implied a tight budget and unfortunately it shows in the finished product. This is relevant when airlines have traditionally put all the bells and whistles into the ad, even Garuda has a touch of glamour.

The hidden gem in the website was the economy claim. Whilst premium expectations are all about service pre, during and post flight, an economy trip is nicely summarised by this which perfectly demonstrates the improved service and has a nice impact:

  • “Coffee or tea? That is the routine choice for most economy class guests. In Etihad Coral Economy Class things are rather different. A frothy cappuccino? Freshly brewed tea? Or perhaps a relaxing hot chocolate? The choice is as wide as our wide-body jets.”
Sometimes it’s the little things that really count and I wish they did the Sydney to Melbourne route!