Lynx ‘clean your balls’ ad banned

The advertising watchdog has banned an ad for Unilever deodorant Lynx for demeaning older men – but was cleared of degrading both sexes, racism and bad language.

The part of the ad deemed unacceptable came at end, when an old man produced two deflated medicine balls and asks, ‘Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody’s played with them for years.’

The ad received around 150 complaints from the public, not far off the total for the most complained about ad last year, which received 222.

One of the complaints to the Ad Standards Bureau read: “It is smutty and filled with crude innuendo of a sexual nature. It is not clever advertising but rather immature banter akin to schoolyard talk. It has nothing to do with the advertising of the product and is totally unnecessary and demeaning to men. If the topic was woman’s breasts there would be outrage. Not funny not clever just feral.”

Another reads: “The ad represents a huge gender double standard. If the product on sale was aimed at women for cleaning their intimate areas and the ad had men making suggestive comments and was packed full of the same overtones it simply would not be allowed in the first place. It would be impossible to imagine an ad featuring men washing objects that are portrayed as representing the vagina. So that said why should it be allowed in reverse?”

The ASB ruled that – with the exception of the depiction of the older man – the portrayals of the people in the ad were not offensive.


  1. An Old Man
    16 Jul 12
    1:35 pm

  2. “The ASB ruled that – with the exception of the depiction of the older man – the portrayals of the people in the ad were not offensive.”

    Hahaha brilliant. This will piss Melinda Tankard Reist and Collective Shout off enormously that it was the portrayal of the old man that got this banned and nothing else….!

  3. haha-nielson
    16 Jul 12
    1:35 pm

  4. somebody remind me which one was the most offensive ad last year?

  5. AdGrunt
    16 Jul 12
    1:54 pm

  6. So let me get this right…

    The only complaint from the litany of vexatious complaints that was upheld, was the the old bloke was villified?

    That was the bit my father in law actually blew his wine out of his nose laughing at!

    I smell Commercial Shout in the majority of these complaints, but the sole complaint that was upheld was the one not under their pearl-clutching banner of “objectifying women, etc.” – that is hilarious. Naturally their website spins a different story. Even their Facebook page shows considerable apathy about the subject from their supporters. Sad, sad, self-justification.

    When will Collective Shout learn that pearl-clutching wowserism is not really credible and that there really are issues they could focus their efforts on that will make a difference.

  7. Robin Hicks
    16 Jul 12
    2:04 pm

  8. Hi haha-nielson,

    The most complained about ad from last year was Rip & Roll for Queensland Association for Health Communities.

    Here is the list of others:

    Robin – Mumbrella

  9. Scott
    16 Jul 12
    2:39 pm

  10. Smutty? Crude? Schoolyard banter? Sure. That may be uncreative but isn’t against the rules — and probably plays to the target market.

    As for reversing the genders on innuendo, does no one remember the playful “Beaver” ad in 2008, the 185 complaints against which were dismissed?

  11. Peter R
    16 Jul 12
    2:43 pm

  12. Glad to see LYNX has re-edited the ad to take out the OLD man and continued to run it!

    Keep up the good work

  13. Daniel G
    16 Jul 12
    2:57 pm

  14. I don’t know if this is in response to the ASB ruling, but Lynx have posted this response video to their YouTube:
    I kinda wish they’d run this video first, rather than the US reheat.

  15. Glenn Urquhart
    16 Jul 12
    2:57 pm

  16. Giant storm in a ball cup.

  17. Daniel G
    16 Jul 12
    3:08 pm

  18. Also, the Lynx ad you’ve embedded is the newly-expurgated version.
    Anyone wanting to be offended can watch the original version here:

  19. AdGrunt
    16 Jul 12
    3:58 pm

  20. Lulz to the Lynx response vid.

  21. Daniel G
    16 Jul 12
    4:26 pm

  22. I thought so too, AdGrunt – that’s why I posted it in the comments.
    I thought it was an original video designed to capitalise on the Australian controversy, but no, it turns out that it’s another Aussie redo of the Axe campaign.
    The US version of the press conference:

  23. Adam
    16 Jul 12
    4:56 pm

    the Lynx press conference – this is soooo funny!!!

  25. Peter Petrovski
    16 Jul 12
    5:02 pm

  26. Glad to see an edited version of this ad is back. Talk about a mountain out of a mole-hill.

  27. Grumpy Young Man
    16 Jul 12
    5:13 pm

  28. I’d love to get my balls cleaned by that chick. I’m disgraced that that is banned….

  29. Marshy
    16 Jul 12
    5:18 pm

  30. Love the Lynx press conference. Cheers for linking Adam.

  31. David Jobling
    16 Jul 12
    5:19 pm

  32. I don’t get it; we are a strange mob; the public broadcaster can give us At Home With Julia and it can be nominated for a couple of AWGIE’s – we can have the Kotex Beaver selling tampons, but and old man with saggy balls is demeaning. I just don’t get it.

  33. Clint
    16 Jul 12
    5:36 pm

  34. “If the product on sale was aimed at women for cleaning their intimate areas and the ad had men making suggestive comments and was packed full of the same overtones it simply would not be allowed in the first place. It would be impossible to imagine an ad featuring men washing objects that are portrayed as representing the vagina…”

    So this person was complaining about an ad that hasn’t actually been made???

  35. Any
    16 Jul 12
    6:35 pm

  36. The whole lynx ad is a copy of a 2010 ad campaign for Axe in the USA. See the original American version here:

  37. Jew Barrymore
    16 Jul 12
    6:37 pm

  38. why can’t an old guy have smooth balls? that’s ageist!

  39. Tom
    16 Jul 12
    9:23 pm

  40. Stoner Ad of the week!

  41. Squee
    17 Jul 12
    1:43 am

  42. An ad targeted directly at the teenage boys who make up approx 99% of the market who purchases Lynx.

  43. Circling Sharks
    17 Jul 12
    8:47 am

  44. This should’ve been banned Sophie Monk can’t act to save her life, and the AXE version was so much better.

  45. Lucio
    17 Jul 12
    10:53 am

  46. Agree – excellent response from Lynx with the Press Conference.

  47. Amber
    17 Jul 12
    1:41 pm

  48. I don’t think there’s any reason to ban it except for the fact that Sophie Monk must have been out of her mind desperate to play this part. This is more embarrassing than offensive

  49. Adrian
    17 Jul 12
    1:49 pm

  50. Question: How many people actually liked the advert vs the mere 150 that complained …

    This is one of the most clever adverts we’ve seen in recent times … the fact that we’re talking about it now simply boosts the product awareness even more. Well done ‘offended minority groups’, since the beginning of time, you still haven’t realised that you are the missing link in creating something out of nothing …

    P.S. If you’re offended … just grab that remote that resides in your hand and change the channel … apologies … was that a bit too obvious???

  51. Richard Moss
    17 Jul 12
    2:30 pm

  52. @ Adrian
    Not obvious, just outrageous. If the answer to offensive programming were to simply block it out of your life by changing channels, there would be no required standards in the first place.

    As for the ad? It was, in my opinion, deliberately scripted and crudely directed, using a cast who were either allowed to overplay or didn’t know that they were overplaying, which brings the responsibility back to the director.

    To claim “double entendre” (more correctly ‘double entente’ ) is in this case an amateur’s shield. The double entendre, used responsibly, should result in a word or phrase being used to explicitly avoid the risqué. In the case of this ad, the use was clearly, in my opinion, a collection, far too long, of deliberate sexual gags.

  53. AdGrunt
    17 Jul 12
    2:54 pm

  54. Richard, you seem to be mistaken about Double Entendre / Double Entente.

    Moreover, a quick viewing of “Are You Being Served”; any Bond film, any Carry On film, Paul Hogan show, etc. will demonstrate exactly how innuendo plays a rich and colourful part of culture.

    Litmus test – would a 5 year old child get the gag?

  55. Amber
    17 Jul 12
    3:06 pm

  56. it doesn’t offend me as a woman, as I said I just feel sorry for Sophie making the choice of being in it. Each to their own I guess

  57. Richard Moss
    17 Jul 12
    3:26 pm

  58. @ AdGrunt

    Thanks for your opinion. I am not at all mistaken about any part of double entendre (entente) and I agree that the examples you have quoted will all, at times, demonstrate the part played by it in popular culture.

    Your Litmus test? Most 5 year old children would get “fart jokes” but that doesn’t make them tasteful humour. The responsible use of double entendre (more properly double entente) would be expected to go above the heads of the average 5 year old.

    Interesting that after a viewing of what is listed as the “original US version” I find that the ad, comes very much closer, in my opinion, to the spirit of double entendre or double entente. The direction is more towards a demonstration of ball cleaning, where much of the dialogue avoids the obvious.

    The actor playing the old man, actually presents as a frail old man with old balls, and he make no reference to “saggy balls” or the fact that nobody has played with them for years. The power of “innuendo” is in what it doesn’t say, rather than what it says.

  59. AdGrunt
    17 Jul 12
    7:54 pm

  60. Are you sure, RIchard?
    Perhaps if you’re speaking to a French person of a “certain age”, but the Anglicisation is double entendre and the modern french phrase is double sens, or so my maid tells me.

    You have affirmed my litmus test for a double entendre, that it would go above a 5 year old’s head. Thank you.

    As for the performances and production values, I share your view.

  61. Richard Moss
    18 Jul 12
    9:33 am

  62. @AdGrunt

    Yes, I feel we are more in accord than not. I doubt that the words “double entendre” would mean anything to a modern French speaker who was unaware of the English usage. Double agreement or double hearing or double intent are all closely related but like so many Anglo/French shared expressions they are in a shadow.

    None quite so appalling as “Elephant and Castle” or “Rotten Row”.

  63. Nads
    18 Jul 12
    1:00 pm

  64. Wow, gentlemen. All a bit high brow for moi. But back to the ad in question…my favourite scene involves the character played by Ms Monk kissing the map of Tassie on the trophy for winning the “Tasmanian International”.

  65. John
    19 Jul 12
    1:08 pm

  66. I thought the add was execellent

  67. Thomas Wheeler
    6 Aug 12
    2:50 pm

  68. Am i the only person who thought the advert was awful anyway? The joke, in it’s entirety was the word balls and the action of cleaning them. Not sure how they managed to draw that out over a 2 minute period. The only reason i was offended is that someone in a position of power at lynx and/or the advertising agency said yes to launching this sorry excuse for an ad.