Remember that time when I blogged about ‘drinking Pussy‘? Or the time I wrote about Lynx commercials? Or hell, even the blog post about Brut deodorant? The question here is, what do all three of these products and subsequent advertisements have in common?
The obvious answer is “being obnoxiously ‘blokey'”, of course. But there’s more to it. Each of these advertisement portray themselves as being ‘ironic’. And how could they not? It’s quite certain that they couldn’t get away with portraying women as nothing more than inanimate objects (like, say a can of drink), or as a set of house slaves ready to do the bidding of men.
It’s irony – what Rosalind Gill (2007) describes as being “that catch all device that allows advertisers to have their cake and eat it [too]“. Hell, Lynx admits that their advertisements are tongue-in-cheek when rebutting claims of sexism against them. Between 2010 and 2011, Lynx had 9 sets of complaints lodged against them through the Advertising Standards Board. In each case, Lynx rebutted the complainants statements that their advertisements demeaned women by instead claiming that their ads were “cheeky” and “playful”, and that their intended “young adult male audience understands the playful and hyperbolic nature of the TVC [commercial] and its distinction between fact and fiction”.
Putting aside the fact that Lynx seem to be expecting quite a lot from their reasonably young audience, I’d like to simply consider the remainder of the audience – the older people, the younger kids, and the women. Apologies if this sounds like a ‘but what about the children!’ kind of cry – but I can assure you, it’s a little bit more than that. It’s more of a “but what about the women!” cry.
I get sick of seeing bodies – mostly female bodies – being used ‘ironically’. And not even in a vaguely clever way. Female viewers are not idiots, and for companies such as Lynx to turn around, after they have already been accused of sexism multiple times, and to say that their intentions are to be “tongue-in-cheek” and ironic are, quite frankly, offensive. I’m not stupid. I know what’s ironic, and what is simply idiotic. Advertisements such as this are the latter.
There are a multitude of ways to advertise to young men without simply screaming “SEX! BOOBS! BUMS! GIRLS!” from the nearest rooftop/billboard/television screen. I just wish these companies would be brave enough to attempt it.