Unilever Ad Man Simon Clift Spells Out the “Joke” to Guerilla Cyber Feminists


The Times Online reports on blogworld controversy around Unilever’s contradictory marketing campaigns. On the one hand Unilever are pushing their Dove range with a “self-esteem” message, while on the other they’re airing the pornified, demeaning Axe and Lynx campaigns. We’re all part of an “internet guerilla attack”, apparently.

The TOL does fail to pick up on Unilever’s involvement in skin-whitening product marketing, mentioned here in the past. (I’ve also ranted about the Suave ugly-mommies campaign.)

Unilever’s chief marketing officer Simon Clift stamps both feet firmly in the “Can’t you take a joke?” square with this one. I think there’s a side serve of “victim mentality”, “you just don’t like sex”, “women can’t be objective”, “silly and over-emotional”, don’t you?

Simon Clift […] says that the Axe commercials should be taken with a pinch of salt: “It’s a spoof on the mating game. The joke is on the boy. It’s just a few bloggers in the US who don’t get it.”

He said that Onslaught was not antibeauty industry, merely an attempt to tackle low self-esteem in girls. He defended Unilever’s right to use different imagery to attract teenage boys. “They are obsessed with sex. Nothing that we or anybody else says will change that,” he said.

So. Go search “Bom Chicka” on Youtube for a variety of worldwide ads, or go to the source here for the US ads (click “The Phenomenon”), and tell me if you find any ad where the joke’s on the guy. Take Stemetil.

Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Also, do you notice how sexual desire appears to be racially segregated in these ads?

  2. ”It’s just a few bloggers in the US who don’t get it.”

    NA-HA! I’ve despised the “AXE” commercials since I was 13 and living in Argentina. That’s long before “blogs” existed, and that’s not in the US.

    ”They are obsessed with sex. Nothing that we or anybody else says will change that”

    Who knows? The truth is boys are told from the minute they come to this planet that they SHOULD be obsessed with sex, so no one can say that there’s no socialization there.

  3. So girls, because we have low self esteem due to the horribly sexist and pornified images of women all over the media get an ad campaign to correct that… but teenage boys, who are often the ones looking for or expecting women to look like this, and in many cases the ones putting pressure on girls to be like this, (because they girls see what boys are told they should want, after all) just get pandered to? Boys don’t need their expectations of women to be changed in any way? Boys aren’t a part of the problem? They don’t grow up and treat women like garbage and perpetuate low self esteem?
    Are they saying only feminists and teenage boys see these ads and that, additionally, we shouldn’t worry because teenage boys aren’t members of society?

  4. I think the joke IS on the boys. It’s cologne in a can, people! Imagine a teen boy buying a can of Axe after seeing one of these ads. He walks up into high school English class thinking the pretty girl that sits next to him is suddenly going to rip off her shirt and start doing the grind as soon as she gets a whiff. She moves her desk further away from him because he smells like a public restroom doused in Raid.
    Seriously, though, Unilever is full of raging hypocrisy. The Dove ads may as well SHOW and Axe ad as the problem they’re trying to address. And if we’re making a big campaign to raise awareness about and combat young girls’ low self-esteem, why don’t we make a big campaign to raise awareness about and combat the stereotype that a teenage boy is not good enough unless he’s being fawned over by multiple attractive women? The masculine ideal is pretty messed up and damaging too! Are there any other companies that have such opposing viewpoints between two of their products as Dove and Axe?

%d bloggers like this: