Urge To Kill Rising: Lynx

I have, for many years, used Lynx deodorant. Today, as my current aerosol ran out, I remembered that I made myself a promise a few weeks ago - a promise to never ever buy anything from Lynx ever again.

This might actually require no action on my part. I'm a thirty-something man, and like many thirty-something men it is difficult for people outside my immediate family to work out what I might possibly want as a birthday present. So I end up with toiletries, which for men means gift-packs of shower-gel and deodorant. Given their position as brand-leaders in Britain, I am pretty much guaranteed to get given at least one more can of Lynx deodorant before I die.

...unless I'm quick about it.

The reason is adverts. Now, I'll happily admit that there are a handful of adverts around at any given time that are actually bearable in some way - either they're actually funny, or actually clever, or (rarely) actually informative. But by and large, I hate adverts. I hate the fact that they're everywhere. I hate the horrible technological tricks that make them more intrusive. I hate the - well, basically, we all know what there is to hate about adverts, and I guarantee that I hate them for pretty much all the usual reasons.

But there are some adverts that manage to piss me off in their own unique way. And, over the years, I've spotted a trend in the adverts for Lynx deodorants that has got it onto my list. Now, I don't think you'll be too surprised to hear that Lynx advertise their deodorant for men by implying that it may make you more attractive to women. After all, that's pretty much the only way to advertise any toiletries to men. Of course, I understand that the converse is true of women's toiletries, but at least they have a few tricks up their sleeves - wax your legs so that silk scarves don't get caught on them, use fancy deodorants so that no white stains form on your armpits, that sort of thing. We all know that underneath it's basically "mascara on = catch a man", but they're putting a little bit of blusher on the concept, so to speak.

Men's toiletries have no such pretensions. If you sell razors, your adverts must feature a half-naked woman running her hand over a man's chin while smiling. If you sell hair gel, your adverts must feature a half-naked woman running her hand through a man's hair while smiling. Presumably the makers of pubic lice treatments will one day advertise with a half-naked woman rummaging around in some guy's boxers while smiling.

This is all good news if you're an unambitious copywriter. When you win the contract for gillette razors, you can just slam out the same old crap, put a post-it note on it that says: "Director should use monochrome filters", and turn in for the night. The advertising executives responsible for the Lynx campaigns through the years, however, have had a different approach, one which I will here refer to as The Ratchet.

The Ratchet in Lynx adverts relies on a simplistic view of competitiveness which is more commonly recognised in the military mind:

  • If Zog has a stick, Agrag must have a stick with a stone in it.
  • If Spain has a 36-cannon warship, Britain must have a 42-cannon warship.
  • If Russia has enough missiles to kill everyone on Earth twice over, America must have enough missiles to kill everything on Earth three times over.
  • If other writers give three examples, I must give four examples.
...and as soon as sticks with stones, 42-cannon warships, 500-gigatonne bombs, and the rule of four come to be commonplace, people start thinking that they can't compete without sticks with two stones, 48-cannon warships, 500-teratonne bombs, and the rule of fives (or, for those commentators of a more pugilistic bent, the bunch of fives).

Now you might be able to work out that Lynx adverts can compete with "half-naked woman running her hand through a man's armpit hair while smiling" in one pretty simple way. That's right: two half-naked women running their hands through a man's armpit hair while smiling. And do you know? That's exactly where the adverts started to go.

Lynx can't be blamed for kicking this whole thing off, I should point out here. For many years cinemas featured an advert for an electric shaver with a reservoir of - I don't know, aftershave gel, or shave gel, or something. Basically, the advert was pretty dodgy all round:

A gentleman (it was kind of edwardian styled) is being shaved by his maid, while another woman watches them through the keyhole - on her knees, legs spread wide. The maid holds the electric shaver, and squeezes it, producing a little bead of this gel-stuff, which looks like a pearl of pre-cum. When she's shaved the guy, she leans down as if to kiss him and the other girl bursts in.

For the life of me I have no idea which brand of shaver this was advertising, but I think we can all agree that an advert which seems to hint at catfights, female masturbation, and getting a handjob is raising the bar somewhat in the arena of male products.

So Lynx went to two half-naked women. But that wasn't enough - you can't just equal your competition, you have to beat them.

So Lynx upped the stakes and went to three. No-one else seemed to be following them, but - well, sometimes you just get on a roll, and momentum carries you on from there. However, there's only so far you can go with this idea. Lynx might get you four women, but, someone must have thought, is there some other way we can explore the Lynx-Rampant Heterosexuality linkage that we've got going here?

Yes, yes there is. Lynx deodorant will even get women for your woman. The next advert (probably the only half-decent one in the bunch) showed a woman who had run out of deodorant. So she uses her boyfriends, and as the advert follows her through her day at work she finds herself increasingly the object of female attention. Finally, returning home, she slaps her boyfriend and stomps off in a hump.

Lynx have, as the years progress, interleaved increasing numbers of increasingly naked women with a few of these more inventive ads. A brief run of ads recently showed that Lynx conferred "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"-style wire-fu abilities on the wearer, and before that one advert claimed that "male sweat only attracts other men". I think we can work out where that one was headed.

The pinnacle of Lynx advertising today is an ad in which a man sprays a ten-pence piece with Lynx. An attractive woman gets the scent (women in Lynx adverts are capable of detecting 1 part per billion deodorant in air), and rushes towards him, tearing off her glasses and letting down her hair in true "why Miss Jones, you're... you're beautiful" style. At the last moment our hero throws the coin into the fountain behind him. The girl dives in, to emerge a second later - at which point our hero starts spraying himself. Lynx is, if its adverts are to be believed, probably the single most powerful pheromone in the entire world. Even ants wouldn't be fooled by a coin - and even if they were, they'd keep hold of their glasses.

To summarize:

Lynx Phase 1: Lynx gets you a half-naked woman.
Lynx Phase 2: Lynx gets you two half-naked women.
Lynx Phase 3: Lynx gets you three or more half-naked women.
Lynx Phase 4: Lynx will turn straight girls if a woman wears it.
Lynx Phase 5: Lynx gets you an island full of half-naked women.
Lynx Phase 6: If you don't wear Lynx, you're gay.
Lynx Phase 7: Lynx gets you all the women.
Lynx Phase 8: Lynx gives you invicible kung-fu powers.
Lynx Phase 9: Lynx will make inanimate objects attractive to women.
Me Phase 1: I gets pissed off, vows never to buy Lynx ever again.

I look forward to Lynx's next advert, in which wearing Lynx transforms you into almighty god.





Postscript One: Lynx's billboards have usually been sly references to their TV campaigns, but their recent ads have definitely surpassed themselves: A collection of naked women curled into the words GET MORE. It's like they've given up all pretense. I can only assume that the next billboard ad for Lynx will be a close-up shot of a vagina being penetrated by a can of deodorant. Don't laugh at the back, people - it's only a matter of time.

Postscript Two: Hooray for alternatives! Mrs. Kludge bought some Original Source deodorant last week. It isn't mentioned on their website - but should be, because it's great. It smells of oranges, and is a delight to put on in the morning. Only disadvantage? Mrs. K. doesn't like it, so I can only wear it during the week.

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