So, it’s 2002 in America and you’re given a marketing challenge: How do you sell perfume, a concept with a rather girly perception, to testosterone driven 12-24 year old males? Call it body spray instead of perfume and name it after the manly tool of manly men, of course. And, as though Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla summoned all that is man, “Axe” was born. Simply brilliant. However, Unilever’s packaging strategy was not stand alone. The company needed to develop an entire brand personality and strong positioning through creative communications; most notably, through it’s use of TV spots. That position? Axe empowers men to grab totally gorgeous women by the olfactories, which, as everyone knows, turns them into lust-crazed loonies.
For anyone living in Boca Raton the past 7 years, I’ve featured a few of my favorite spots below:
BOM CHIKAH WAH WAH (A Homage to the Sound of Frisky Business Going Down)
CHOCOLATE MAN (What Gal Doesn’t Like A Little Chocolate?)
EPIC (There is simply no other way to make their point any more clear than this)
The result? Axe fragrance filled middle and high school boy’s locker rooms across the country with concentrations that could sting the lungs and eyes. The message resonated so well, in fact, it even faced the same fate as pogs. Since its success, long gone are Axe’s days only as a humble deodorant with the power to turn any out-of-your-league woman into a groping zombie (like I said, humble). Today, Axe has had product extensions into all forms of male grooming habits including: shower gel body wash, shampoos, skin care, and, most recently, hair styling.
So now it’s 2009 and you’re given a new marketing challenge: Try to convince those same males that styling their hair is the man thing to do. Tough. I don’t know many men (12-24) that fall under Axe-archetypes and desire to style their hair. Again, there’s the perception-risk of looking too metro and the belief that it’s unmanly to over groom (yes, most men consider anything more than toweling their hair dry, over grooming).
Step forward www.axehaircrisisrelief.org. Axe has always been about empowering men, you were promised to be a total stud when you wore their scent. That promise is still true (according to them), but to encourage men that hair styling is worthwhile, they leveraged the usual gain of female approval in a much more realistic way.
Check the site for yourself. You learn in the fine print it’s all pre-taped and the women’s reactions are based on actual study information for men’s hair styles, but it looks totally live. 100 women, an empty warehouse, and a divided line: YES or NO. Women take their stand quite literally when shown a picture of other men, and even you, yes you, can upload your own picture to see what these women think of your look.
So, I did. It seems 78% of Axe’s test women like me with a curly mustache and flowing locks.
“And, okay, like, before you leave, can you twirl your mustache and laugh evily?”
It was love at first snide remark. The blonde host (if she introduced a name, I’d use it here) uses just the right level of mocking your appearance, meanwhile, being humorous and endearing enough to offer Axe as the solution to your low girl-approval rating. Even the 99% guys get a line like, “Wow. Nice. To keep up the good work…”
I see a lot of viral potential here. I know I shared this video with multiple friends and who knows if they tried for their own photo. I haven’t found figures for product sales or web traffic, but I think this creative is a strong move by Axe. It’s consistent with the brand they’ve created, but adds something new–a little insecurity just to give that extra push to stubborn males who don’t believe in hair-styling products. Of course, even if you don’t send a joke photo and still rank 1%, it’s important to remember fellas: all you really need is the approval of one gal in the end.