Close-Up: Has BBH's web work achieved the Lynx Effect?

Kate Nettleton asks digital specialists what they make of BBH's new Lynx website, following the advertising agency's foray into the digital world.

Since the dawn of digital, the pure-play digital shops have tried to belittle the abilities of "traditional" advertising agencies to produce top-quality online output.

Yet, despite this, in January 2007, Unilever decided to defy the norm, put all its eggs in one basket and award Bartle Bogle Hegarty its Lynx digital account.

One year later, and the agency has just launched its first major digital work for the deodorant.

So, is the long-awaited website - - going to force the digital creative industry to eat its words?

With a variety of mobile and video content, minimal branding, chunky and uncluttered text (that many liken to an online men's magazine, such as Monkey) and the obligatory images of semi-naked women, the site makes confident strides into the interactive digital space.

Mark Boyd, a creative director and the head of content at BBH, explains: "The digital world is the antithesis of the Lynx Effect, which is a sensorial brand encouraging guys to get out there. Where others might have rushed in to create a site with loads of girls, we wanted to create something different, and make it a call-to-arms to get guys to leave their bedrooms and get into the mating game."

The site attempts to help young guys in their quest to "get in there" by providing them with ice-breaking tools, such as a downloadable mobile phone soundboard with sound effects of whips, horns, a metal detector and a car-key bleep, hidden-camera videos, a "fit girl finder" and even advice on what is consuming the minds of their potential conquests.

Some, however, find this strategic leap from ads portraying guys as Lynx-doused babe-magnets to lovelorn computer hermits in need of pulling tips a little hard to swallow.

Rick Hurst, the business director on Lynx at BBH, disagrees: "The Lynx core brand DNA is about giving guys the edge in the mating game. Smelling good isn't going to get you girls online, so, instead, we created ice-breakers to help guys get girls in the real world. That's why it's on brand and on strategy."

But with a history of top-notch television work on the brand and fledgling digital credentials, it was the digital execution, rather than the strategic concept, that was always going to be the real focus of the industry.

The agency avoided getting its hands dirty with the technical execution by outsourcing the production to the digital consultancy preloaded.

Boyd claims this wasn't a cop-out, but a liberating aspect of the project: "Because we had no legacy of how to approach digital work, or technology systems in place, this allowed us to build partnerships with the best companies around the world to deliver the project."

But Rosie Arnold, a creative director at BBH, admits it still wasn't without its difficulties: "It was a steep learning curve, the main problem being my naive belief that you can do anything, but, in reality, you can't actually get all your ideas executed - you have to rein back because sometimes the technology is not up to it."

So, is BBH happy with the results? Of course. In fact, it even goes so far as to say that the digital shops would have lacked the insight to create something superior. But, perhaps not surprisingly, some at those very shops disagreed when asked to review the site.

- Seb Royce, creative director, glue

Hang on, I thought the Lynx Effect was that I just sprayed it on and women came running? What's all this about needing to learn how to pull? I'm disappointed, and with the site, too.

If you want to engage this audience online, you need original ways of doing it. Lynx has done it before, but I think it has missed a trick this time. The content is lads' mag circa 1994, albeit with a digital slant. In 2008, there are so many innovative ways of creating and delivering it; the fairly pedestrian site and "watch a video, send in a video" format feels dated to me.

Still, I like the mobile applications, and once they've got "tooled up" on the site, I can imagine groups of lads adopting "get in there" when on the lash. Like at Manchester United's Christmas party ...

- Ben Clapp, creative director, Tribal London

I guess I'm supposed to give some kind of nerd's eye view here, but there's no point going into the technical minutiae on this site build - it's all good. Simple and effective - great, in fact. Really nice/bold build visual design with a simple "boysey" (is that a word?) layout.

I would even say I much prefer it to some of its previous stuff - the brand looks stronger and, visually, it does feel like Lynx.

Ironically, it's the messaging and content that disappoints.

First, and most obvious, I thought that Lynx made me irresistible? So why am I being given lessons in chatting up girls? Shouldn't I just spray myself, then stand on a beach waiting for the bikini-clad legions to arrive? Or have we moved on without anyone telling me? Second, in structure, there seems to be some confusion about whether it's absorbing, multiple-return content or "must-see" viral. There's too many bits, leaving it somewhere in between Dare's Axe "feather" and

- Dave Bedwood, creative partner, Lean Mean Fighting Machine

I've always thought that when above-the-line creatives can finally be arsed with digital, we will start to see some great work. Why? Well, whether digital likes it or not, TV still attracts the best writers, and the art of writing has always been the Achilles heel of digital.

However, the Lynx site doesn't really support this theory.

Being from BBH, I could empathise with work that isn't technically cutting-edge or work that feels a bit dated in the fast-moving digital world (just check out something like Diesel's "Heidis" campaign for a comparison), but that should all dissolve in the face of strong writing. Alas, this is where the site disappoints the most.

The exquisite skills BBH displays in its TV work seem to have been lost when it uploaded the site. Any man who looks up to these characters as pulling machines still lives with their mum and fucks apple pies (which, granted, might be a big audience).

Why BBH deserted its art of writing when this great strategy went online I don't know, but for my sake, long may it continue.


James Besley, 23, student

There are a number of digital applications on offer, encouraging budding lotharios to turn their phone into a pulling machine and make their screen look hot. There is also information on the fairer sex, although this is limited to the revelation that they only discuss boy bands, fashionable mobile phones and Kylie.

It's obviously early days, and the amount of content stored on the site is minimal, but the site is easy to navigate. Although it's not immediately obvious what differentiates the content in each section, every time you hover over a link, a scantily clad "bird" appears, detracting nicely from this.

While it doesn't take much time to max-out your enjoyment of the site, Lynx ads have always made me laugh and, at the very worst, the site will become an archive for them.

If you subscribe to the Lynx mantra of "it doesn't matter where, just get in there", then this site will provide you with 15 minutes of mindless fun. However, if you believe the first tip for pulling is not smelling like a schoolboy's gym bag, then I would probably steer clear.