ASB upholds complaints against Lynx 'Rules of Rugby' ad

Unilever complains Collective Shout encouraged complaints

The Advertising Standards Board have upheld complaints against Lynx's sexist 'Rules of Rugby' advertisement.

The advertisement was supposedly created to educate men about the rules of Rugby Union. It is of course just another excuse for Lynx to objectify women. It would appear that objectification is Lynx's one and only marketing strategy. We've written about this before.

The advertisement, which appeared on YouTube and was reported to be launched as a television advertisement to coincide with Rugby World Cup, featured scantily clad women wearing modified Rugby Union uniforms (ie. underpants and midriff tops) running in slow motion. The camera zooms in on women's body parts at different intervals while the voice over makes  reference to 'shape' and 'size.'

The Advertiser - Lynx's parent company Unilever - defended their advertisement in the way they usually do. It's funny! It's tongue in cheek! Our consumers love it!  In their response to the ASB, they also complained about Collective Shout:

We have noticed that a Facebook group called "Collective Shout" asked other Facebook users to send complaints about the Video to the Advertising Standards Bureau (see attached screenshot). The Collective Shout Facebook site contains the following statement:

"Have you seen this Lynx television ad? Please make a complaint to the ad standards board via the on line form at ... "
Directly underneath this statement a link to the website of the Daily Telegraph was posted together with the following statement:
"Scantily clad models play out the rules of rugby in this controversial new TV ad that's been launched to coincide with the World Cup."

Both statements incorrectly refer to the Video as a television ad although in fact it is not shown on TV. We have reviewed the Collective Shout Facebook site and have not noticed that the Video was made available on this website. It is not unlikely that the nine complainants who claim to have seen the Video on TV have been encouraged by this Facebook site to lodge a complaint without having seen the Video on TV.

In its determination the Advertising Standards Board found that the advertisement breached Section 2.1 of the code (advertisements shall not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, age, sexual preference, religion, disability or political belief. )

The Board considered that the advertisement is clearly shot to emphasise various physical attributes of the women – with lingering shots on the women‟s breasts, groins and bottoms. The Board considered that the advertisement depicts the women as sexual objects. The Board considered that the „fantasy‟ element of the advertisement takes away any suggestion of the women actually being presented as sportswomen and increases the impact of them being presented as sexual objects.

The Board considered that the advertisement depicts women in a manner which amounts to discrimination against women.

Based on the above the Board determined that, in this instance, the advertisement did depict material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of society.

You can read the full determination including Unilever's full response here.


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