Unilever screws up with Lynx but Littlewoods goes further with greedy kids Christmas ad

It’s official: we, or rather our children, have been seeing far too much of Lucy Pinder’s cleavage, and it’s got to stop.

That, in brief, is the judgement of our advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority, on the latest Lynx online and poster ads, which show the glamour model in assorted demi-nue poses. Here’s the full boob-tastic set. set.

Whether La Pinder, who routinely appears topless in a variety of newspapers and magazines freely available to all, really is corrupting the nation’s youth by testing the power of Lynx’s anti-perspirant control is highly debatable. The fact is Unilever, owner of the Lynx brand and generally deemed a responsible advertiser, has clumsily transgressed one of the great contemporary pieties: the need to protect our little ones from any taint of precocious sexualisation.

This was a slow-motion accident waiting to happen. Lynx is inherently laddish. It self-consciously appeals to the sort of young male (17-27 years old) who avidly devours exactly the kind of mag in which Pinder tends to appear topless. The difficulty for Unilever is not primarily the positioning of the brand – although its treatment of women as blatant sex objects does sit increasingly oddly with the infinitely more respectful approach adopted by Dove, also a Unilever brand. It is in the sloppiness of the media placement: a case of creative strategy being dictated by the media buying/planning agency. How lazy is that?

Unilever has become the first high-profile casualty of the David Cameron-endorsed Bailey Report, which strongly recommended protecting young children from just this kind of commercial “smut”. One key proposal was that there should be a clampdown on erotically-suggestive posters. And yet Unilever and its agencies wilfully went ahead with the idea. Despite the fact that, after pre-vetting, the ASA’s CAP Copy Advice unit had already cautioned the ad was likely to be banned.

Less obviously culpable, perhaps, is the placement of the online ads. That they have also been banned suggests you simply can’t be too careful when posting ads in such apparently child interest-free zones as Yahoo and Rotten Tomatoes.

I won’t say the ASA zealously hit the wrong target in singling out Lynx, because it didn’t. But let’s face it, when it comes to taste, decency and the issue of inappropriate commercial intrusion, it needs to broaden its aim.

Take a look at this Littlewoods Christmas commercial (produced in-house) which is creating quite a furore on Facebook:

To quote from Marketing Magazine, which ran the story:

One [Facebook] commentator said: “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it is too irresponsible to allow. It promotes copious spending, which is what started this damn credit crisis – people spending money that they haven’t got because they felt the need to compete with the Smiths, or buy love.”

Another commentator said: “What a great example to kids to know that what makes a mother a good one is how much over-expensive bling she buys them at Christmas.”

Quite. Corrupting our kids isn’t simply a matter of prematurely exposing them to seamy sex.

You May Also Like

advertising advertising standards authority asa christmas dove facebook lynx media agencies Stuart Smith unilever

About Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith is one of the most incisive and knowledgeable commentators on global marketing. He was a long-time editor of Marketing Week during the period when it was the UK’s leading marketing, media and advertising specialist publication. Visit Stuart Smith Blog.

Share
Tweet
+1
Share
© Copyright 2013 More About Advertising, All Rights Reserved. With help of WPWarfare.com. | Cookies explained.