For years the Lynx adverts had a predictable, recognisable motif. But for a little while it was undermined. We’ll get to that later. This is the archetype: a man sprays Lynx deodorant on himself and becomes irresistible to women. They swarm towards him like a terrifying blend of ravenous wolves and starving locusts. For example in this 1-minute advert from 2006 where women literally cross forests, mountains and oceans in their bikinis, summoned by the stench of deodorant:
I bet that advert was a lot of fun to film.
There's more realistic adverts after the click - but not much more realistic.
Is it strange that as the camera zooms out from the man and the horde of women close in upon him, my only thought is ‘he is doomed’? I’m not the only one, judging from the comments on Youtube. They look like they’re about to rip him apart, devour his flesh and then rip each other apart to get at the man-flesh within the bellies of those who first devoured him. But hey, that’s women for you, am I right?
Lynx adverts have been slowly becoming more self-aware. Even that last one with ‘billions’ of women was grandiose enough to be a parody. Apparently at some point someone decided that Lynx ads portraying women as mindless slaves to magic pheromones might be… degrading in some way. Over the years they’ve taken it in other directions, like giving these sexual playthings some character:
I mean, yeah, they’re still subservient. But the advert is unique amongst the hours of ego-stroking male-fantasy commercial footage. It plays with the reality of femininity. The whole point is that women aren’t actually like that. I mean sure, I know a few who collect comic books, some that are into football and some who fall asleep right after sex. I’ve even met some who have experimented with group sex! No, I’m not just making friends with porn films. But none of my friends – female, male or otherwise – have ever told me I look sexy playing air guitar, and none have ever given me money to pay a lap dancer! Call themselves friends…
Anyway, it’s arguably less misogynist than the infamous music video for Axe body spray, which makes a musical funk out of what happens to a woman’s brain when she’s hypnotised by Axe body spray (from Lynx).
It puts the hip-hop back in ro-HIP-HOP-nol! Like I said, it’s a music video; at three minutes long it has no business calling itself an advert. We follow the internal thought process of a girl who smells the deodorant. She protests at first, insisting that she has a work ethic, moral values and a desire for true love as if she’s a virgin. But in her mind the avatars of exploited libido kidnap her, transport her to hell and perform a scientific process known as ‘becoming sexy’. It uses glittery underwear, exposed skin, good lighting, heavy makeup and a smoke machine.
Apart from that ‘monsoon headed south’ line (classic humour about moist vaginas), the only funny part is that the dude on the bus seems completely astonished about the attractive young woman suddenly grinding all up in his business, smelling his face and whatnot.
But for a little while there were some Axe adverts around that undermined this patriarchal, masculine fantasy. They were the ‘premature perspiration’ adverts, and they reminded men of the shame and horror lurking within their loins at all times. Here’s one that combines many of the others into forty-six seconds:
The men in these adverts weren’t the confident Lotharios from previous Lynx adverts. The voiceover was reassuring about this insecurity. Most of those men lost women due to their excessive moistness.
Young males have always concealed their fear of lacking manliness with binge drinking, sexual fantasy and violence (I’ve always focused on binge drinking, sexual fantasy and escapist fiction myself, but I gather most others throughout history have gone with violence). Anyway, the Lynx advert obviously realised that instead of exploiting the delusion, they could exploit the fear of reality underlying the delusion. Pictured above is the secret shame of their whole young male demographic, laid bare for all the world to see. Axe body spray promised to return that shame to secrecy.
Needless to say you don’t see those adverts around much anymore.
Then there were the ‘fallen angel’ adverts. It’s similar to the Axe body spray music video, but at least they were more graceful about it for a full minute and a half:
Sexy angels are willing to give up their halos to the Lynx-smelling dude. Yeah, it's a subtle euphemism. But the advert is so elegant – with a choir singing Sexy Boy and even the blind man able to see the angels – that you don’t even notice how crude it really is. Be thankful that I’m here to point out the smut you might miss.
In my final example we finally arrive in a world where genders are pretty equal. In these recent Lynx Attract adverts, men and women are magnetically attracted to each other:
It’s a world in which both genders are reduced down to being impulse-driven fluid-fiends, suggesting that social boundaries have been transcended. We’re cynical about loyalty and both genders are transparent about wanting to have sex really, really badly. But around them the world is reduced to chaos and destruction. Apparently it’s the end of society as we know it. Or maybe it’s just the end of society as Lynx knows it.