The new Axe dichotomy

We all know Axe from the days of our awkward teenage years, when boys sprayed enough of the stuff to cause allergic reactions in the classroom. It was the ultimate sign of having become a teen: you could spray yourself silly with a can of Axe body spray, put gobs of it in your hair, and now you can watch a graphic novel about it on YouTube, too. That’s right, the newest campaign for Axe’s “Unleash the Chaos” line is a graphic novel called Anarchy. What’s more, Axe is not just boys’ territory anymore; the new line features a fragrance for women as well.

So Axe is venturing into a new market, but considering the former commercials of Axe-doused men attracting women by the droves, will today’s girls go for the brand? Are women and girls going to be okay with wearing a brand that in previous years has portrayed women as lusty, carnal creatures, drawn to any man who wears Axe? In fact, Axe commercials didn’t even spare the ladies in Heaven, when they showed angels descending to Earth to pursue an Axe consumer. (That commercial has been banned in some countries due to complaints.)

The new graphic novel, more properly called a comic series, is another interesting advertising scheme. Since 2002, when the brand was launched, Axe has been squarely marketed to young males. Every boy wants a line of girls trailing after him without having to put in any more effort than raising an aerosol can to his armpits, doesn’t he? It seems the same approach wouldn’t work for women, as the brand’s marketing campaign has somehow concluded. And that is why instead of simply reversing the roles to show a trail of men following a woman who has sprayed herself with Axe for Women, they came up with an elaborate interactive graphic novel series. Apparently, illustrated characters staring at each other, not breaking the sexual tension in the midst of a chaotic scene, is enough to get the ladies hooked, whereas you need “natural” women to draw in the male consumer base.

Another thing you might have noticed about Axe commercials in the past is that the men are your average joes and the ladies who run after them are clearly out of their league. It’s brilliant, actually, because the guys who buy it are given the illusion that specifically those women who would otherwise pass them over will now run mindlessly after them. But where’s that angle when it comes to advertising to women? Why this change of standard? Is it because Axe couldn’t possibly imagine running a commercial without a horde of beautiful women?

Maybe it’s just me, and it really doesn’t matter to anyone whether the new Axe commercials and graphic novel will appeal to women, but just to make sure, I asked a few female students about their take on the new Axe marketing campaign.


1) As a marketing scheme, did this appeal to you?
Student 1: Not at all. The marketing scheme didn’t appeal to me, just because it was a cartoon that used dull colours.
Student 2: No, not really; I didn’t understand how that commercial was for Axe. It barely mentioned the product—it seemed to be more about a graphic novel than anything else.
Student 3: As a marketing scheme, this did catch my attention.

2) Would you buy Axe for Women? Why or why not?
Student 1: No, because I already have a brand I’m comfortable with, but I might if I want a change.
Student 2: No, mostly because the Axe for Men stinks horribly, and I’d rather buy nice perfume or body spray than cheap stuff like that.
Student 3: No, I wouldn’t buy Axe for Women.

From the above answers, it seems that Axe’s new marketing scheme might not exactly get the ladies running to their nearest drug store to buy Axe for Women. In fact, student 2 goes so far as to say it “stinks horribly” and calls it “cheap”. Student 3 admits that although the advertising caught her attention, she wouldn’t actually buy it. Of course, this is hardly a conclusive study, but it makes one wonder whether young women today object to strategies like those employed by Axe, or whether it all just boils down to effective or not-so-much marketing techniques…

Axe for Women will be released sometime this year. It remains to be seen how the dichotomy in marketing will be received by both male and female consumers.

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