CIB turns down Axe deodorant ad for stadium

March 9, 2010

The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board, for the first time, rejected an advertisement that would have been displayed in Lucas Oil Stadium because of its racy nature.

The debate over Axe deodorant's odiferous, or “objectionable,” signage provided the only highlight Monday afternoon to an otherwise routine CIB meeting featuring a financial refresher for new members.

The CIB, which operates the stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and Victory Field, as well as the Indiana Convention Center, struggled much of last year to close a projected $47 million deficit for 2010.

At the 2-year-old Lucas Oil Stadium, Axe now holds the dubious distinction as the only company so far to have one of its advertisements declined by the CIB.

The Axe ad depicts a slightly suggestive stick of deodorant surrounded by a surge of water, accompanied by the message “girls prefer dry guys.” Axe, sold by Unilever Group, regularly uses sexually charged advertising to sell its products.

CIB member David Shane urged his colleagues on the board to “send a message” that questionable advertising would not be accepted.

Don Welsh, CIB member and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, praised the decision, noting youth groups such as FFA and Music For All annually patronize the stadium during conventions and events. 

“I’m happy we’re going to take a more cautious approach,” he said.

Typically, the Indianapolis Colts use their own discretion when approving game-day signage within the stadium that the team must remove afterward.

But, according to the Colts’ lease agreement, permanent signage needs to be approved by the CIB, said Toby McClamroch, the board’s attorney.

“The Colts have a right on game day to put up about any sign they want, as long as it’s not objectionable,” he said. “But they have to remove it.”

The team receives all revenue from the advertisements. Colts officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

All previous ad requests to come before the CIB, with the exception of the deodorant promo, have been clean of controversy. While rejecting Axe, the CIB on Monday approved a stadium ad from The Stanley Works tool company.



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