An advert for Lynx deodorant in the style of a breaking news bulletin about a worldwide epidemic has been cleared following complaints that it was not immediately recognisable as a commercial.
The TV advert for Lynx Attract began with large on-screen text stating "Breaking News" while a news-reader said: "News reports just in of an epidemic spreading across the world."
The newsreader went on to describe a light plane making an emergency landing in Barcelona and escaped animals bringing Berlin to a standstill while footage showed people in New York wearing gas masks and protective clothing.
The newsreader said: "Scenes in New York show how quickly the epidemic is spreading. Emergency responders say the scale of the chaos may be beyond any sense of control" as people were shown removing their clothes and kissing.
The advert was cleared with a post-7.30pm restriction.
Ten viewers complained that it was not immediately clear that it was an advert and 19 complained about its sexual content. Another four said it was offensive for making light of serious issues such as aeroplane accidents and epidemics.
Defending the advert, Unilever said it used a "fantastical and humorous tone" interspersed with regular references to Lynx Attract, with the first mention taking place 14 seconds into the advert.
It believed that the continuation of funny, surreal situations, which would not normally be featured or shown in that style as part of a genuine news item, made it obvious to viewers that it was a spoof and not a real news item.
The Advertising Standards Authority said: "We noted the ad did not show a plane accident but referred to an emergency landing caused by passengers becoming amorous. We also noted the ad referred to an 'epidemic', but the scenarios were not rooted in reality and did not represent any real-life incidents.
"We understood that the references to an emergency plane landing and an epidemic might not have been to all tastes, but considered that, given the way the material was presented, the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers."
It ruled that no further action was necessary.
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