Banned Lynx adverts

Only yesterday did I muse on how close to the bone Lynx’s adverts adverts are getting – they ride a fine line between irony and a rather boorish Loaded-esque twattiness.

Its latest TV ad sees a man constructing an arc so that he might lure women – two by two – to his sea-going shag palace. How you view this ad depends exactly on what side of the fence you sit and I can see it attracting complaints. I find the 2012 ‘end of the world’ stuff quite amusing, but if you’re tacitly comparing women to animals that’s a tad problematic.

Potentially more egregious – and kinda under the radar – is the inherent notion that wearing Lynx makes men more sexually attractive to women, who are rendered animalistically horny by a smelly spray.

This is all rather light-hearted – a bit like Carlsberg’s ‘probably the best lager in the world’ thing – but it’s rather open to scrutiny. How far can you push a gag before it becomes, well, not a gag?

Personally I’d like to see more brands adopt this tactic. New cars that have women dripping off them in lust. Carbon-haired 45-year-old Just For Men users beating them off with a shitty stick. Anusol bum-smearers drowning in seas of clunge.

For the time being the Advertising Standards Authority – rapidly becoming my favourite weekly newsletter vendors – have slapped Lynx down over a set of Lucy Pinder net and print adverts that were deemed ‘a bit much’ or somesuch.

The former feature La Pinder beinding over and wobbling her norks about during a set of domestic activities, “stripping wallpaper, jogging, applying lip gloss, eating whipped cream off her finger and playing with a light sabre”, not to mention sucking a lolly – that old chestnut – while the latter was a riff on the ‘beach shower’ ads that were inescapable earlier this year.

The TV ads were cleared as they were timed to avoid being shown to kids, but the ASA received 113 complaints over the print ad for being “sexually suggestive, demeaning to women, and inappropriate for public display” – complaints it upheld. They describe the public’s complaints thusly:

97 complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive because it was sexually suggestive, provocative, indecent, glamorised casual sex, and because it objectified and was demeaning to women;

2. 71 complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was inappropriate for public display, where it could be seen by children; and

3. 12 complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it promoted promiscuity.

What proportion of ads aren’t sexually suggestive, I wonder? And isn’t reducing women to sexually ravenous animals a tiny bit demeaning? That seems to cover Lynx’s whole canon to me. The ASA’s judgement on the print ad reads:

We therefore considered that the poster would be seen to make a link between purchasing the product and sex with women and in so doing would be seen to objectify women

Surely that’s the basis of every advert Lynx has ever done? Am I missing something here?

I’m not especially bothered by this curious ambivalence to what is deemed beyond the pale and what isn’t – it makes for good copy – but it’s fascinating and bemusing to see what gets pulled up the public and what doesn’t. No wonder advertisers keep pushing the envelope.