The adverts, for Axe boxer shorts, were ruled inappropriate by ERK, the Swedish Council Against Sexual Discrimination in Advertising.
ERK looked both at Internet adverts for Axe and at the packaging for the boxer shorts.
The packaging depicts a man wearing the boxer shorts embraced by two women wearing underwear. The man’s head is cut off in the picture, although both the women’s heads are visible. A pink kiss-mark is visible on his chest. The packaging also carried text warning that the garments “may get pulled out of shape, or even torn…you lucky boy.”
The washing instruction label carried a symbol representing a “woman magnet”.
The council said that the “pictures, text and symbols in the marketing material communicate a sexist view of women, in which women in general are only seen as objects for male sexuality.” It said that the packaging broke the International Chamber of Commerce’s advertising rules.
Unilever Sverige, the maker of Axe, was also found to have broken the rules in a campaign on its website and in banner adverts on other sites featuring scantily-clad women.
“The women are being used as eye-catchers of a sexual nature, without sufficient links to the product being marketed,” the council ruled.
Unilever was asked to comment on the complaints, but did not respond, according to ERK.