Guest post by Guy Sigley, originally published at The World Tells Me
Today’s post begins with an actual account of the meeting that took place when the Lynx ‘Clean your balls’ campaign was born.*
It’s late on a Friday afternoon. Lynx executives sit side-by-side with the most brilliant minds in the advertising industry. They’re ready to make history. Ready to win awards.
The brief is simple: sell Lynx men’s shower gel. Ties are loose at necks. Hands are running through product-filled fringes. One guy’s watching Bikini Car Wash III on his iPad.
‘All right, men,’ begins Lynx’s highest ranking officer. ‘What have we got?’
A young man in a tailored suit speaks up. University-educated, well travelled, crisp accent. ‘Balls,’ he says emphatically.
Some nods. Some looks of confusion. Some uncomfortable shifting in seats.
‘What’s wrong with breasts?’ the boss asks. ‘Breasts sell everything.’
‘We’ve done breasts before. We need something edgier. More creative. More tangible.’
‘Balls . . .’ the boss muses, warming to the idea. ‘Talk me through it.’
‘We use different sorts of balls, you know, like tennis balls and golf balls, as a metaphor for … well, balls.’
‘Bit opaque isn’t it? There must be some way we can get breasts in there?’
‘No, sir, not really. It would compromise the thematic premise.’
‘Hmm. A commercial without breasts.’ He sits back, squints his eyes and tries to imagine such a curious creature. ‘It’s a risk, but I’m going to back it. You know I love creative ideas!’
The campaign is offensive; it’s meant to be, as Lynx has more-or-less confessed (though they use the phrase ‘sharp and edgy’).
What Lynx hasn’t explained is why it has to be so unaccountably juvenile. It’s not clear from the campaign video whether the whole thing is for an actual product or is just a snigger-fest put together by a bunch of fourteen-year-olds with Final Cut Pro and too much time on their hands.
Call me a crazy, femo loving wowser, but why does Lynx have to use puerile double entendre to sell shower gel? Have all the good ideas really run out? They talk about being mavericks, but what’s maverick about objectifying women? Just about every ad agency on the planet is doing that.
Women? How could this be objectifying women? It’s all about balls.
No, it’s not. It’s about the premise that women exist primarily for men’s sexual gratification. No matter how much Lynx claims this is a ‘sharp and edgy’ campaign, it has the same misogynistic foundation as so much of the other tripe we’re served up by advertisers on a daily basis. All of them infusing our minds with the idea, explicit or not, that women are mindlessly stumbling from one opportunity to pleasure their menfolk to the next. That’s the sum total of their contribution to society. And here’s a tip, lads, if you use the right shower gel, they won’t be able to help themselves.
But Lynx wasn’t going to stop at one overproduced advertisement. Just to prove that the campaign team had more than one brilliant idea, they decided to knock off a picture of the Hockeyroos – you know, the incredibly dedicated sportswomen representing Australia at the next Olympics – and plaster it on Lynx’s corporate Facebook page with the blisteringly witty caption ‘These girls sure know how to handle balls.’ Seriously? Sharp and edgy? Or disrespectful and lame?
Two-faced Unilever is the parent company that owns Lynx. Unilever also owns Dove. Dove campaigns for real beauty. Lynx objectifies women. Enough said, I’d suggest, but Miles Mainwaring says it better than me anyway so check out his article highlighting Unilever’s hypocrisy.
Of course, the team at Lynx will be slapping their palms red from all the high-fiving at every negative word spoken; free publicity, campaign longevity! Well the joke’s on you Lynx, because no-one actually reads this blog.
But you know what, maybe I’ve been a bit harsh. At least the campaign was original.
Thanks to Collective Shout (CS) for highlighting this travesty of a campaign. Read the CS post here.
* Today’s post did not really begin with an actual account of the meeting that took place when the Lynx ‘Clean your balls’ campaign was born. But if advertisers want us to think they’re more than a group of adolescents in suits with way too much money, give us something clever, creative and maybe even funny. Please leave the smut and objectification behind.
Guy Sigley is a Melbourne-based writer who works in communications by day and blogs by night. A father of young children, Guy began his blog The World Tells Me to oppose the profit-driven sexploitation and misogyny so widespread in popular culture.