Lynx Still Stynx – So Do Unilever

Published October 3, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, well, well.  I got a response from Unilever regarding my complaint to them about their Lynx Lodge campaign.  Brace yourselves for some of the worst correspondence to a customer complaint that you are likely to see:

Dear Kath

Thank you for your feedback and the opportunity to address your concerns regarding our marketing activations.

While acknowledging the raised points I would like to take the opportunity to outline Unilever¿s practice standards regarding the marketing activities involving our products:

¿We take marketing responsibilities very seriously and are committed to responsible marketing
¿In all cases we follow the regulatory guidelines, while being respectful of differing views, and taking care not to offend.
¿Unilever adopted a global guideline to prevent the use of ‘size zero’ models or actors in its advertising to ensure that our advertising does not promote ‘unhealthy’ slimness.
¿We follow explicit guidelines about direct advertising to young children.

Unilever has a wide portfolio of everyday consumer brands, offering products to consumers that address different needs. Each of our brands talks to its target consumers in a way that is relevant and that communicates the brand¿s own unique proposition. Sometimes that proposition is serious and informative; at other times it is light-hearted and amusing.

Lynx communicates to its consumers through a series of light-hearted and tongue-in-check advertisements that feature fantasy situations that rarely happen for guys in the real world. Lynx strives to create marketing campaigns and promotions that make women laugh as much as men, and the women featured in our advertising are always in on the joke.

The campaign for Lynx aims to build the confidence of young men. For Lynx, it is about the ¿Lynx effect¿ ¿ the boost that using Lynx can give to the confidence of young men that often find themselves daunted by the dating game.

We do take the concerns of consumers very seriously and thank you for your feedback.

Again, we apologise for any offence caused and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely

Sue Connolly
Consumer Relations Consultant

Where do I start?  I would start with the weird punctuation and spelling (I’ve left it in) but that wouldn’t be fair.  Let’s start with the “practice standards”:

¿We take marketing responsibilities very seriously and are committed to responsible marketing

So portraying women as subservient toys waiting with nothing to do until the men arrive at Lynx Lodge is responsible marketing?  So offering a “campaign for real beauty”, and a “self esteem fund” for women through one range of products absolves Unilever of any irresponsible behaviour in their other ranges?

¿In all cases we follow the regulatory guidelines, while being respectful of differing views, and taking care not to offend.

I am offended.  Dozens of other women are offended.  Do you care Unilever?  Or are you bothered that people are offended, not that you’ve done something to offend them?  The last sentence is a clear indicator of that:

Again, we apologise for any offence caused and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

You apologise for any offense but what are you doing to rectify the situation?

¿Unilever adopted a global guideline to prevent the use of ‘size zero’ models or actors in its advertising to ensure that our advertising does not promote ‘unhealthy’ slimness.

Ok so you don’t use size zero models, but you’re more than happy to use any other size models to objectify women to peddle a cheap deodorant?

How about the rest of the letter.  Here’s a fun sentence for you:

Lynx communicates to its consumers through a series of light-hearted and tongue-in-check advertisements that feature fantasy situations that rarely happen for guys in the real world.

But does the objectification rarely happen for women in the real world Unilever?  Are women just supposed to “suck it up” so that you can give those poor guys a bit of fantasy?  How about creating a fantasy situation that rarely happens for women in the real world?  One where women aren’t expected to be man pleasers just because the guys might need it.

And then comes the Pièce de résistance:

The campaign for Lynx aims to build the confidence of young men. For Lynx, it is about the ¿Lynx effect¿ ¿ the boost that using Lynx can give to the confidence of young men that often find themselves daunted by the dating game.

Do they Sue Connolly?  How daunted do you think women feel by the dating game when young men are told in advertising campaigns from Unilever that they can have “The Lynx Lodge kitchen staff (a heavily photoshopped young woman in a cleavage-baring chef outfit) will effortlessly whip up a barbecue platter, hearty burger or blood-red steak on request.”?  In the bedroom of Lynx Lodge, two girls dressed in maid outfits pillowfight while the page says “After fluffing your pillows, Lodge staff will tuck you in and prepare you for sweet dreams.”

I’m sure young women must be SO excited to jump into the dating game with guys who have had their confidence built by the advertising of Lynx brand.

I won’t link back to the Lynx Lodge website, they don’t need the hits.  Needless to say, there is now a link that says “Watch the Ad too hot for YouTube” that wasn’t there when I wrote the earlier blog post.

And fellas?  I think you should be asking Unilever just what they think of you as intelligent human beings if they feel that you’re going to rush out to buy their product just to get yourselves dates.  I personally like to believe that most men are a whole lot more intelligent and streetwise than that – it’s a pity that Unilever don’t seem to hold the same high opinion of their male customers.

Let’s tie it back to the work Unilever are supposedly doing on body image and self esteem.  Do Unilever really think that any messages (and they’re problematic) that women and girls receive from their Dove campaigns are not at all affected by those that they put out via the Lynx brand?  Do they think that women just turn off the television in an ad break when the Lynx ad comes on?  Or close the magazine?  Perhaps they think that women just have blinkers and can’t see advertising that’s not intended for them.  Don’t look girls, this is men’s business.

Do Unilever believe that there is no way to advertise to young men, to build their confidence up than at the expense of young women?  Do unilever really think that their male customers are so simple and one dimensional?

Not good enough Unilever.  I know you sent out the exact same letter to other customers who contacted you as well (I saw two on Twitter and another on Facebook within a day of getting mine).  Your customers deserve better.

I encourage you, my readers, to not purchase anything from Unilever where possible.  Here’s a link to the brands that Unilever own.  These include:

Lynx, Dove, Sunsilk, Rexona, Bertolli, Bushells, Continental, Flora, Lipton, Raguletto, Streets, Lan-Choo, Domestos, Drive, Jif, OMO, Persil, Surf, Impulse, Lux, Lifebuoy, Lux, Pears, Vaseline.

There others but these are the ones I pulled off their website quickly.

I’m going to send this post to Sue Connolly in a day or so, so please, post in the comments below, share with your friends and better still, contact Unilever yourself, here is the link.

37 comments on “Lynx Still Stynx – So Do Unilever

  • I contacted them too and am yet to receive a response. I’m starting to boycott Unilever products but it’s bloody hard because they have their fingers in so many pies. I’ve switched my deodorant brand from Rexona to Garnier and will no longer be buying Lynx for my husband.

    • I just went through a bunch of unused stuff I have at home (I tend to stock up a bit on non-perishables) and am donating all the Unilever products to the Homeless Connect programme we have at work. That way they get used instead of thrown away, it helps folks who need help, and I can go out and buy a stack of NON-Unilever products to replace them.

  • Dear Unilever,

    Not only do you insult women with your advertising, particularly this Lynx Lodge business, but you also insult men by assuming they all think scantily clad subservient women are “just a bit of fun”.

    I don’t think I know any men who’d think your advertising was “a joke” and compelled them to buy your products, and they’re hardly a homogenous group either. The main thing they have in common is that 1 – they are not misogynists, and 2 – understand that your marketing is LAZY. Seriously, did you get the work experience kid to think it up? Women in bikinis is a shoddy go-to advertising gimmick used by marketers who can’t think up anything more clever. I repeat: you are LAZY.

    Just because some young men in your focus groups thought it was cool doesn’t actually mean it’s a good idea. Unilever can afford better marketers than this, surely?


  • I haven’t seen these ads in the USA (but I don’t watch much television, nor do I read magazines), nonetheless, I will be boycotting Unilever products here in the United States in support of your campaign to get them to wake up and smell the coffee. Their Lynx campaign is sexist to the max and definitely needs to be redone by a much more professional advertising agency who isn’t as lazy as their current one (maybe they can find an agency that knows how to do advertising without being sexist and lazy and relying on stereotypes).

  • as a bloke, i can say pretty clearly that the whole campaign is abhorrent to me. i’m a guy who, as a young man, had a lack of confidence with dating and the whole schtick, but i got by – without misogyny, and without objectifying anyone. quite the contrary, in fact. any sensible person can see that lynx’s campaign is the antithesis of any reasonable human being’s view of the world.

    like ‘brut’, they portray a pretty ordinary view of both men and women in australia. i don’t concur.

    • I’m so glad to hear a bloke speak up publicly. Campaigns like this are as damaging and offensive to men as they are to women. They’re patronising, they’re insulting and the attitudes they push don’t do any of us any good, regardless of gender.

  • You can’t have directed marketing not affect people from outside that demographic. Like you say, it’s not like women turn off the tube when that type of ad comes on. They sit there watch and absorb like anyone else would like say, young children. And with the number of times we are exposed to the same commercials it makes a definite impression.

    • I know, it’s like they think that if something is “mens business” then we just can’t see or hear it. And when we refer to “young people” we don’t mean just children. Young men and women hearing the wrong messages in the media does just as much damage as it does when kids hear it. If not more, because at least with kids, some of it sails over their young heads.

  • The thing that most annoyed me about the Unilever letter (I got the same one) and I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere yet, is the idea that the Lynx Lodge would give young men confidence in the dating game. I expect that a ‘Lynx Lodge education’ is in fact setting young men up to fail in the dating game. Women are not there waiting to satisfy their every whim.

    As far as the dating game is concerned I think women are looking for conversation, intelligence, thoughtfulness, companionship, common interests, trustworthiness, laughter as well as their own emotional and physical needs met. They might do better to educate young men on these things if they really do what to help them in the dating game.

    • Oh look, yet another person who got the same cut and paste letter! It looks like they’ve sent it to a lot of people.

      And you’re right about it setting guys up for disappointment, that’s for sure.

  • Thanks so much for posting on this. Lynx Stynx!

    Unilever have this really bizarre cut and paste letter that goes to everyone who challenges them, even when they are challenged on their facebook page. “We’re really sorry you’re offended…we didn’t intend to offend anyone.” It’s like slapping someone and saying “I didn’t intend to hurt you, here let me slap you again.”

    Collective Shout has just launched our Lynx Stynx campaign today.

    We’ve outlined a few different ways for people to take action.

    This video is included on our campaign page, but just in cased you missed it – this is ‘The Real Lynx Effect.’

    Thanks again!

  • Wow,
    I can’t even begin to convey how infuriated I feel by the overwhelming stupidity in the stock-standard response they gave you.

    I wonder how they can even grasp how this “promotion” might be even slightly acceptable.

    Lynx really does smell awful.

  • Oh go Woolies! And great work Kath, Collective Shout & everyone who’s written on this issue. Lynx ads have been bothering me for years but this Lodge promotion has really taken it too far.

  • Hi Kath. Thanks for bringing this shoddy marketing spin to our attention. It is disgusting that companies treat people in the way unilever’s ads have here. It is worse that they think some pat, off-hand response will satisfy the offense caused by their ads.

    My wife and I already use the Erhical Buyer’s guide to help us keep clear of product limes owned by Unilever and a host of other multi-nationals.

    I am not sure if you have thoughts of persuing this ad through advertising standards, but there is possibly a good case for it being banned.

    Thanks again.

  • Great work.

    Unilever are an interesting example of how multinational corporations appropriate the language of fat lib, eg through their Dove love your body campaign, whilst also undermining it – they own Slimfast. They aren’t to be trusted! I’m not surprised that they’ve responded so crappily to your complaint, well done you on pulling them on their shit. I like the way you’re using their response to generate further conversation. Are you going to try and continue a response with them?


    • Thanks Charlotte. I was pretty sure Unilever were behind Slimfast (or Pukefast as I call it!) but they don’t have any mention of it on their Australian site so I left it out.

      I will contact them again in the very near future, I am glad I waited until I could see if there was any momentum behind the work that several folks were putting in to calling them out on this campaign that I could quote along with my response. Because not only have I been provided with a wealth of material here, but the news that Woolworths have pulled out of the campaign is a sweet, sweet victory. Woolworths man! We shifted Woolworths! One of the two largest supermarket chains in the country.

      I know Collective Shout, Mel Tankard Reist and I are all getting a lot of response from our posts on this topic, so it will be great to feed all of that back to them in my response. I will dig around and see what others are writing about the subject too. And of course I’ll keep any news updated here.

  • Great post! I too wrote a letter of complaint to Lynx (I was disgusted after my 3yr old asked me why the people weren’t wearing any clothes on tv!!!!) and have boycotted their products. I’m so pleased to hear Woolworths has pulled out!!! I am yet to receive a reply from Lynx, but suspect I have just read the reply I am sure to receive! haha


  • Thanks for this. Our family will be even more vigilant in our selection of what we buy.

    Unilever needs to understand that they can advertise without stooping to the low standards of selling sex – body, mind and soul.

  • Thanks everyone for your support for this cause and your feedback. I’m putting together a response to Unilever, I shall keep you all posted when I get it happening.

  • I wrote a complaint, and the answer was identical to the one above. How much do they really care what customers think if they couldn’t be bothered to reply to the actual letters we send?
    My reaction was that in what they’ve said in the letter, they’ve identified themselves as doing exactly what we object to … encouraging young men to treat women as mere bodies by encouraging them to indulge in any kind of self-interested fantasy about women. And then what are they claiming, that Lynx Lodge doesn’t exist, that it’s only a fantasy?

    • Lynx Lodge does actually exist, or at least it did, don’t know if it still does. It was being set up in Macquarie, a suburb of Sydney.

      At least we’ve had a win with getting Woolworths to withdraw from the campaign, it will be interesting to see what else comes of it.

  • Well done for tackling this one head on, its takes a lot of time and effort to outwardly criticize and make noise about these things…

    In truth, this is just another reason to boycott Unilever, a company known for it’s animal testing, blatent disregard of Indonesian rainforests in the cultivation of palm oil which it uses in most of it’s products and contradictory values and ad campaigns across their products

    Their messages are poison just as their products are- speak to them in the only language they understand- through your consumption, and boycott them!

    Thanks for posting their response btw, they clearly have very uncreative PR, sucks for them!

  • Kath……I sent a complaint to unilever/lynx too…and my response was WORD FOR WORD identical.

    Here is the response I sent in reply. I sent it via the unilever website again.

    Dear Amy,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply to my complaint about the recent Lynx Spa in Martin Place. I have to admit though, that I thought that your response was poor.

    You state that Lynx aims to “build the confidence of young men”. However, by doing this, you obliterate the confidence of young women by portraying bikini-clad models with large busts who are over-confident, and who are not only willing to respond to these men’s desires, but who are “in on the joke” and “laughing as much as the men”.

    You state that these advertisements are “featur[ing] fantasy situations that rarely happen for guys in the real world”. You’re exactly right- As a young women I can honestly say that I’ve never presented myself to men the way that the women in the spa did that morning. By “building the confidence of young men” in “situations that rarely happen for guys in the real world”, you’re actually setting them up for failure when they realise that they can’t just go up to attractive women and demand a massage, nor should they just ogle a woman’s breasts because she is wearing a bikini. You’re not only obliterating women’s self esteem by showing unrealistic women in “fantasy situations” that will never happen in the real world, you’re suggesting to guys that it IS the real world- and so you’re setting them up to be sorely disappointed and VERY embarrassed.

    You state that you’re making “women laugh as much as men”- how many women do you think are laughing at this promotion? Can you honestly tell me, not just as a marketing person who gets paid to give generic responses to complaints, but as a real person with a life and a name, that you think it’s funny to show women who are unrealistic so that the men in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us? This pornography is teaching men that women look and act like those women did in the spa. I can tell you that I will never look like that, and I have no desire to act in that self-degrading manner. If I wore a bikini to the beach and a strange man came up and asked for a massage, I’d probably slap him and go home. You’re setting men up for disappointment and women up for humiliation and unrealistic expectations.

    I know that not every man who sees these ads will be so bold as to confront women like that, but the more ads like this people see, the more sex-obsessed men will think women are, and the more attractive they expect us to look. And when they realise that not everyone has breasts that are an F cup and yet has a size 8 figure, then they’ll feel a bit disillusioned.

    Amy, I really, really hope you don’t believe what you typed back to me in your response. I don’t think that Lynx ads “take care not to offend”- if you’ve seen the ad for the men’s retreat, you’ll know that. These ads are offensive to women, and are setting men up for failure and disappointment. They might feel successful for a moment in a non-realistic situation, but they have to live in reality.

    I look forward to hearing your response.

    • Excellent response! Well done indeed.

      I sent one that was basically an edited version of this post, and included a bunch of the comments I received. No response at all so far.

      They suck!

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