Driv­ing Miss Crazy

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing - POLOKO MO­FO­KENG poloko.mo­fo­keng@fin­week.co.za

A MAN SMOTH­ERED in Axe de­odor­ant has no trou­ble at­tract­ing the ladies as he drives around town in his car. One of them tries to im­press him by per­form­ing a stunt com­mon at street races. She’s seen climb­ing out of the spin­ning car, then open­ing the door for him to join her in the car while his friends ap­plaud.

Most of us would see that as a harm­less fan­tasy typ­i­cal of the tongue-in-cheek Axe style. How­ever, the Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Au­thor­ity says its “dis­re­gard for safety” was nei­ther rea­son­able nor jus­ti­fied and or­dered Unilever to with­draw the ad.

Unilever ar­gued the action was in­tended to por­tray the fan­tasy of young men in their pur­suit of the op­po­site sex. It was ir­rev­er­ent, hu­mor­ous and cheeky in a way that would be un­der­stood by the tar­get mar­ket of teenage males. Pro­fes­sion­als were used for the stunts, which in no way em­u­lated re­al­ity.

The ASA con­tended that al­though the woman get­ting out of the mov­ing car was un­likely, the spin­ning car was not. In­stead of be­ing shocked, the on­look­ers in the ad ap­plaud the “danger­ous prac­tice” por­trayed. All of which be­came par­tic­u­larly rep­re­hen­si­ble be­cause the TV com­mer­cial was aimed at young peo­ple.

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