Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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Lynx ads banned for “degrading women”

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A Lynx outdoor ad featuring a woman with her bikini top undone has been banned by the advertising watchdog for objectifying women and irresponsibly using material on media that could be viewed by children.

The Advertising Standards Authority has also banned a series of online ads for Lynx featuring glamour model Lucy Pinder, which ran on sites including Yahoo and Rotten Tomatoes, for being ‘likely to cause widespread harm and offence.”

The poster attracted 114 complaints for being degrading to women and unsuitable for children, while the online ads received 14 complaints for the same reasons.

Lynx brand owner Unilever attempted to justify the ads by saying people expected the ads for the deodorant aimed at 17-24 year old men to be about how the product made the wearer attractive to women in a “light-hearted tone.”

The FMCG giant said CBS Outdoor had specifically approached CAP Copy Advice before running the poster ad to check its suitability and had received a recommendation who advocated caution.

However, the ASA says CAP clearly advised if the ad went ahead it would be referred to the watchdog who would be likely to ban it.

Meanwhile, Unilever said the online ads showing Pinder doing various things like getting dressed and eating whipped cream off her finger wearing cleavage revealing outfits, featuring the strapline “What will she do to make you lose control” was not degrading to women as she was shown as “confident and in control.”

However the ASA said the ads were provocative and “would be seen as degrading to women,” and were therefore “likely to cause serious and widespread offence.”

The move to uphold complaints about material unsuitable for children comes after the watchdog has vowed to crackdown on overtly sexual ads following the publication of the David Cameron endorsed report by Mothers Union chief executive Reg Bailey in May.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • As much as I agree with the complaints, isn't it a little late to worry about ads objectifying women. Have they not watched TV in the last 25 years?

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  • I think the ASA is overstepping its boundaries and straying into censorship with this judgement.

    The ads certainly do sexually objectify women, and I think they're puerile and not particularly witty, but does this really mean they cause "serious and widespread offence"? The ASA makes this judgement independently of the ads' potential impact on children.

    I don't believe it warrants an outright ban.

    The ASA has a narrow line to tread. I support the recent judgements on airbrushed ads that give an unrealistic impression of the effects of make-up, for example, and on the Marc Jacobs Oh, Lola! ad, which clearly sexualised children.

    But both the subject and target audience of these Lynx ads are adults, and the fact is that sex sells. Does the ASA have the right to tell us it can't?

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  • I think this another example of the ASA overstepping the mark, which it always seems to do when faced with potential sexualisation of females! This was a light-hearted campaign and I really don't see how it could possibly cause offence- particularly striking how the ASA seems to find female sexualisation so unbearably offensive yet is happy to accommodate male sexualisation and even explicit male nudity (such as in ads for visa, original source, etc, etc!)

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  • Oh for goodness sake! Dont we get to decide anything for ourselves anymore? I grew up with the early Cadbury Flake adverts (yeah, showing my age now, lol) but i never found it offensive or degrading at all! How on earth can any of these adverts be offensive? This is 2011 not 1811! There is still an off switch on your tv (albeit by remote control now) and at this moment in time we can still decide for oursleves what we watch or dont watch! So come on, let's decide for ourselves as individuals, lets have our OWN choice!

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  • But haven’t we always objectified, glamorized women, casual sex? Is this something new, or is just this time the explicit use of words beyond images is a bit too much to bear for some tastes? Furthermore why do advertisers insist on presenting women in such a vein? D0 they honestly believe that this is how women perceive themselves, how men perceive women or ultimately in the notion that anything that gets us or leads to more sex if it’s good for the goose is good for the gander?

    Or to put in another way: What about if the same ad ran with a shirtless man with the above slogan- ‘the cleaner you are the dirtier you get.’ Would that have offended us? Probably not.

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/11/are-these-ads-degrading-to-women/

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