Driving Miss Crazy
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.