“Everyone always feels better for having a good cry… getting it out.”
Sounds like the kind of statement that most women would consider a truism and greet with a shrug and a “Yes…and so what?” But as a line taken from the script of grooming, boy-brand Lynx’s latest video series, it’s a pretty extraordinary turnaround.
For well over a decade, Lynx has revelled in rocking the very epitome of rampant sexist imagery, relying on the most extreme clichés of macho marketing and gender stereotyping. “Wear Lynx, get laid” has been the blatant rallying call, delivered by hordes of bikini-clad babes, during a time when sex-mad, FHM reading lad culture was the norm. It’s worked well for them too by all accounts.
So why the complete U turn? A year ago, Lynx brand owner Unilever, the world’s second-largest advertiser, pledged to drop all sexist stereotypes from its advertising after research suggested just 2% of ads showed intelligent women.About time too. The world thankfully is moving on at a pace. Those lads’ mags have all folded and their narrow babes, boobs and banter culture now seems woefully shallow in its depiction of modern men. Brands need to rethink their gender strategies and play catch up.
So it’s incredibly refreshing to see this seismic and timely shift in Lynx’s position. To see them step up and actually fuel the debate, broadening definitions of masculinity beyond the clichés. They have likely been influenced by the likes of The LAD Bible, the UK’s biggest online community for young men with over 24 million Facebook followers, whose founder redefined ‘lad’ a couple of years ago as: “…someone who spots a grandma crossing the road with heavy shopping, someone with manners, who is polite, who can be a hero.” The person responsible for leading The LAD Bible’s meteoric growth is a woman - editor, Mimi Turner.
But what’s really interesting is that with its ‘Men in Progress’ series, the black and white face-to-camera portrayals digging deep into issues about relationships, body image, emotions and sexuality, Lynx is not simply addressing the balance, it’s borrowing directly and powerfully from marketing to women conventions. The brand that once epitomised lad culture – has now swung to the very other end of the spectrum and done a Dove. Lynx’s message ‘Be Your Best You’ is a positive one and one which the majority of women on the planet will be very familiar with.
But we wonder whether there’s any real credibility or any room for brand authenticity following such an extreme swing in gender portrayal. Isn’t it all just a little bit rich when it’s Lynx saying it?