lundi 14 mai 2012


             Axe is a brand of grooming products first launched in 1983 and owned by the company Unilever; it once was a male-only brand. With the launch of a new fragrance –Anarchy for him + for her- last January, came a new opportunity to target both sexes.  This has changed the way people think about the brand and especially about its advertising campaign “The Axe Effect”, which was considered as sexist. Through the analysis of three documents about this topic, we will try to understand how the launch of a fragrance for women changes the way they perceive the brand. 
            According to Kyle Marancos, senior brand building manager of Axe, their new product –Anarchy- is more of an experiment in comparison to the male line, which is way more developed. Indeed, Axe used to be a male-only brand and all its advertising campaigns showed insecure young men getting attractive women by spraying themselves with Axe deodorants. This phenomenon was quite one-sided and considered sexist by most people, especially by women activists. Besides, they wrote a petition to Mr. Michael B. Polk, President of Unilever Americas, to ban all the Axe advertisements that portrayed women as objects of sexual gratification and as animals unable to resist the sudden irresistible attractiveness of men wearing Axe products.  Axe’s marketing was based on the idea that “sex sells” and that was proven to be very effective. Indeed, targeting the young generation is a judicious choice as the only word on their mind is “sex” and the experiment of it. This is why the brand initially became so popular. However, some people are worried because the advertisements encourage sexual behavior and give young men the wrong idea that it is okay to objectify women. 
           Nevertheless, even if the ads and commercials portray women in a negative and submissive light, humor helps to play things down. Axe’s Facebook page is ‘liked’ mostly by women so it shows that the apparent sexism in Axe’s advertising campaigns won’t stop them from liking the brand. This information indicates that Axe did not need to launch this specific product for women to improve their perception and image. However, the campaign for Anarchy for him + for her, where women are shown equal to men, can only act as a positive one and might even help the most reluctant of women activists to have a better perception of the brand.

Third document for the press review

Article about the launch of the first Axe product for women -Anarchy- in Canada
(Source: )

Unilever is set to launch its first Axe product for women in Canada, though the company is keeping its marketing plans close to its chest.
In addition to the women’s body spray, the Axe Anarchy line includes men’s body spray, deodorant and shower products. While the men’s products come in Axe’s traditional black packaging and have an “oriental-inspired fragrance that boasts fresh fruit notes, alongside sandalwood and white amber,” Anarchy For Her will come in white packaging and smell of “sparkling fruity notes, soft florals and a light finish of sandalwood, amber and vanilla.”
Kyle Marancos, senior brand building manager of Axe, said the women’s product was developed in response to demand from the brand’s female fans.
Marancos describes Anarchy For Her as a “limited edition” fragrance. Given the multiple products in the male Anarchy line compared to the single female product, Anarchy For Her seems more of an experiment for Unilever to see if it can translate the typically oversexed male brand into something women will regularly buy. Marancos would not expand on the product’s overall market strategy.
A quick scan of Axe Canada’s Facebook page shows a number of women are asking for women-only Axe products and samples of the new body spray. The Facebook page also shows that some Anarchy samples have made their way to consumers, though the product has no official launch date – much like its Canadian marketing campaign.
However, given the nature of the global marketing materials that have surfaced, Valentine’s Day seems a likely kick-off date. Marancos said the campaign will utilize global creative assets created by the army of agencies that steer the brand globally. Bartle Bogle Hegarty handled the main brand work for Anarchy, including a one-minute video showing men and women irresistibly drawn to each other in the middle of an increasingly chaotic scene.
The brand insight? “Men and women are driven by attraction, and Axe provides the spark they need to act on that attraction,” according to Marancos.
The Canadian campaign will include television, cinema and digital media (including a gaming element). Canadian agencies working on the launch include Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which oversees digital and consumer sampling for Axe, PR firm Harbinger and media agency Mindshare.
Axe has also just launched a two-in-one shower gel called Axe Jet and a hair styling line called Axe Hold + Touch. Both male-focused products have shipped and begun to appear on store shelves.

Second document for the press review

Petition to "stop the sexist and degrading advertisements by Axe" sent to Mr Michael B. Polk, the President of Unilever Americas. 
(If you agree with the petition, click here and sign it).

Unilever Inc. is the company responsible for flooding our televisions, billboards, and magazines with advertisements that are offensive, sexist, and degrading against women; all so they can sell Axe- a personal care product for men that claims to "give guys the edge in the mating game". Its advertisements constantly portray woman in a sexual and submissive light. One of their newer products, a body spray called Dark Temptation, is featured in a commercial where the man using the products turns into a chocolate man. Throughout the commercial there are women biting his bum, licking his neck, and clawing at windows to get to him. Many other commercials feature women scantily clad that can't resist a man wearing an axe product. These commercials not only debase women but it presents the falsehood that all women have an inner animal just waiting to get out. It send a negative message to the younger generations that all you need is this product and women will sleep with you. The present women in a negative light that the only thing on our mind is sex. This gives men and younger children the wrong impression and the sense it's okay to objectify women. In Colombia, for instance, a female Axe Patrol visits bars and clubs, frisking guys and applying body spray.These small examples are more than enough to outrage today's modern woman, but what makes this worse is that Unilever Inc. is the company that also owns Dove. Dove is personal product geared towards women who's main sale's pitch is female empowerment and that one should love their body despite the shape and size. This is completely hypocritical and two faced. They state that the company's mission is " make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products...". This statement itself is extremely sexist and backwards. It is time to take stand and demand that these advertisements can be pulled. There must be other ways to sell their product instead of using women as submissive and objectified pieces of meat that will convince a teenager if they use their product hot girls will be under his spell and unable to control themselves. It is time to fight that battle that so many women before us did. Together we are strong and we can send a message that we will not tolerate it anymore.

First document for the press review

Here is an article about the use of sex in the "Axe Effect" advertising campaign (click here to read the article on :


Young men buy Axe to smell good and attract women.
Middle and high school boys across the nation have discovered “The Axe Effect.” Drawing them in with advertisements full of sexual innuendo and promises to seduce the ladies, Axe has quickly become the top selling male deodorant body spray.

Why has Axe become so popular? How has a product like male deodorant become a type of culture icon? The answer is simple and lies in the method of their advertising campaign. The message of Axe is this: wear Axe, get the ladies.

In television ads, guys who wear Axe are shown being attacked by multiple women. One of the slogans for their shower gel campaign is “How Dirty Boys Get Clean.” Another ad shows an empty shower with a sign that reads, “Occupancy by more than five persons is dangerous and unlawful.” One of Axe’s tag lines reads: It can happen anywhere. The Axe Effect.

The website is full of advertisements similar to those broadcasted on television and featured in magazines. Axe’s site details how the product works and gives this definition of the Axe Effect: “The internationally recognized name for the increased attention Axe-wearing males receive from eager, and attractive, female pursuers.” Above this definition, a guy is shown spraying Axe on his chest and underarms. The next picture is this same guy with a female on either side.

The website also has a Vixens game that features “naughty supermodels.” The Axe Unlimited site contains the game Mojo Master, self-described as the “fantasy game of seduction, where players are let loose in a fantasy world.”

This type of advertising has made Axe ragingly popular among young males. It plays on the insecurities young men have when it comes to women and promises to give them confidence and make their fantasies reality.

Unilever, the same company that produces everything from Hellman’s mayonnaise to Surf laundry detergent, first launched Axe body spray in France in 1983. In 2002, Axe was introduced in the United States. Since the initial introduction in the States, Axe’s presence has become unavoidable. More than just a deodorant, Axe also serves as a body spray. It is meant to be sprayed all over the body, not just the underarms.

Kevin George, Unilever’s director of marketing for U.S. deodorants, describes Axe the following way. “Girls want guys to smell clean and be groomed. The point is [guys] feel more confident. Axe provides them with the confidence to go out and ask a girl for her phone number, to get those digits.”

Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. Axe advertisements push the limits. The message they communicate is much more than “Axe will give you confidence.” Rather, the message communicated to young men through their ads is “Axe will give you sex.” They have cashed into the statement “sex sells” and won over a captivated teenage audience.

“I was watching the commercial, and there was this guy and he was mobbed by a bunch of girls and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s tight!’ So I went to CVS and bought it,” said Asean Townsend, a twelve-year-old boy who saw an Axe commercial.

It is important that we understand why Axe and similar body sprays are so popular. We also need to be aware of the effects of Axe’s marketing. This type of sexualized advertising fuels lustful fantasies among young men and encourages sexual behavior. It serves as a gateway to further involvement in pornography. Furthermore, through this type of advertising, women are reduced to objects of sexual gratification.

As with most issues in our present day culture, we must be willing to talk to the young people in our sphere of influence about things seemingly as trivial as Axe body spray. Not every young man who wears Axe is doing so because he thinks it will attract droves of women, so we must not make assumptions. However, we can start conversations about it. Ask your sons, the guys in your youth group, or other young men you know what they think of Axe commercials. Chances are they will have something to say. Then have a conversation with them about what the advertisement portrays and whether it is right or wrong.

Another way we can take action is by not buying Axe products. When we buy their products, we tell the company and the world that we agree with their method of advertising.

Regarding Axe body spray, along with all advertisements and products, it is important that we are aware of what we buy and why. Because culture today is at such odds with Judeo-Christian values, it is more critical than ever that we do not simply buy into everything we see. We also need to encourage our young people to think about their choices, even when it comes to what they purchase.


lundi 7 mai 2012

Sexism in advertising

Noun. Sexism- discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.

Sexism has been, for a long time, a tool used by publicists to promote a product:

 Women are shown inferior to the male gender and often reduced to sex objects and as we know... sex sells!

Here are links to interesting articles about sexism in advertising:
Sexism and sexuality in advertising
Sexism sells in the Media
Sexism in product advertising

Sex... object?

Noun 1. sex object - any person regarded simply as an object of sexual gratification

Axe gives the power to control women and the sexual connotation is obvious in this commercial. These women get undressed and don't react negatively to that. The man is, therefore, in the total control of them thanks to the pseudo-pheromone that an Axe bottle contains. Indeed, they are once again regarded as animals whoses actions are justified by their pulsions and so, they are also regarded as sex objects.

Animal instinct Part II

Axe is a brand of male grooming products, owned by the company Unilever, that has a specific target in its marketing strategy: unsecure teenage boys who have trouble getting a girlfriend.
Once they put one of the Axe products on, they become self-confident and attractive to all kind of women and especially the most beautiful ones. Well, that's what we believe while watching the Axe commercials and with sales over $100 million, it is clearly efficient.

In this commercial, women are compared, once again, to animals whoses instincts lead them to a man standing on a beach and spraying two bottles of Axe deodorant on himself. All the women are wearing sexy bathing suits, look like models and really act like animals running and fighting for their prey.

Yes, this commercial is funny but for that, it has to reduce women to sexual animals lacking of any kind of personnality...

Animal instinct

The first image might seem shocking but it is actually an ad for the deodorants Axe. A link to the movie The Silence of The Lambs is quite obvious here (same mask and straitjacket than the serial killer Hannibal Lecter) turning this pretty lady into an animal unable to control herself while smelling Axe perfumes.