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.