A new Lynx advert entitled Clean Your Balls has wound up the nutters in Australia.
The three-minute commercial, based on a US version that aired 18 months ago, features Australian pop singer and actress Sophie Monk taking on the appearance of a TV host selling the benefits of a new product, the Lynx buffer.
Balls... no one wants to play with them when they're dirty, she starts. That's why you have to keep your balls clean. Monk then proceeds to show how the new scrubber can do just that by cleaning a succession of sports balls,
including small balls (golf), hairy balls (tennis) and a big ball sack (football).
But not everyone sees the funny side of the double entendre. Collective Shout, a nutter group that campaigns against the sexualisation of advertising, has put in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Melinda 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.
Tankard Reist called Lynx, the male grooming brand owned by Unilever, repeat corporate offenders over their sexualised advertising.
Australia's advert censor has banned an ad for Unilever deodorant Lynx for demeaning older men, but it was cleared of degrading both sexes, racism and bad language.
The part of the ad deemed unacceptable came at end, when an old man produced two deflated medicine balls and asks, Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody's played with them for years.
The ad received around 150 complaints from the public. One of the complaints to the Adverstising Standards Bureau (ASB) read:
It is smutty and filled with crude innuendo of a sexual nature. It is not clever advertising but rather immature banter akin to schoolyard talk. It has nothing to do with the advertising of the product and is totally unnecessary and demeaning to
men. If the topic was woman's breasts there would be outrage. Not funny not clever just feral.
The ASB ruled that, with the exception of the depiction of the older man, the portrayals of the people in the ad were not offensive.
Lynx responds to ad ban with fake press conference boosting the double entendre Lynx responds to ad ban with fake press conference boosting the double entendre.
In a move suggesting that a ban on Unilever's Lynx Clean Your Balls ad was a part of the company's advertising strategy from the outset, the brand has immediately launched a new video featuring an unapologetic mock press conference.
A video ad, for the Lynx Manwasher Shower Tool , was shown on Gym TV and on YouTube:
The ad, which was in the style of a product presentation filmed with a live audience, featured two female characters: Stephanie De Mornay and Amber James . Stephanie introduced Amber and asked, What have you got for us today,
Amber? Amber responded, Balls. Nobody wants to play with them when they're dirty. That's why you have to keep your balls clean. The problem is soap just isn't enough. She was shown unsuccessfully cleaning a football. Stephanie asked,
Well, how can guys clean their balls properly so they're more enjoyable to play with? Amber replied, Well finally there's a tool that can really get the job done. The Lynx Manwasher. Cleans your balls. She held up a bottle of Lynx
shower gel and a Manwasher . The audience, including a couple of men who held rugby balls, were shown clapping and cheering...
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and unsuitable for display where it might be viewed by children.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, because they believed the implication that the black character had bigger balls than the white characters played on racial stereotypes.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that very young children would be unlikely to be aware of the slang meaning of the term balls , but we considered that older children would be likely to know and understand that slang meaning, particularly in the
context of an ad which discussed the use of a Manwasher . Nonetheless, we noted the actions Unilever had taken to specifically target the ad to their target demographic of men aged between 16 and 34, and noted we had not received any
complaints that the ad had been seen by children. We concluded the ad had been appropriately targeted and was not, therefore, irresponsible.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We noted Unilever's view that the ad did not create the impression that the size of the sports balls was representative of the size of the testicles of the men in the audience, or that the skin colour of the men was relevant. However, we
considered that because the premise of the ad was based on the double entendre of the word balls , viewers would draw connections between characteristics of the men and the balls they were holding for comedic effect. For example, at the
beginning of the ad, when Amber referred to one man's golf balls as small balls , his reaction was to look concerned and uncertain.
We noted the audience included only one black man, and we considered that by having him present the large net of footballs for cleaning in contrast to the smaller balls presented by the other men, the ad played on racial stereotypes. We
considered it was therefore likely that some viewers would find the ad distasteful on that basis. However, we noted the ad had been targeted at men aged between 16 and 34 and we concluded that, on balance, it was unlikely to cause serious or
widespread offence amongst that audience.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.