Axe personal care products began stepping up and outside of the box, by marketing to a more diverse consumer base. The usual sex driven “use Axe and females will want to fuck you” ads are being replaced. The newer commercials are telling men to be comfortable with themselves in their skin with the tag line “Finding Your Magic”; whatever and however that may be and smell good in the process while using Axe body spray and products.
The LYNX ad (Axe in Australia) set the stage for the company’s new approach in 2015. Around the 27 second mark of the ad, the narrator says “kiss the hottest girl or the hottest boy.”
Regardless if one uses Axe products or not, let me start by saying I think this approach is great. Men come in all sizes, shapes and colors and this company, at minimum, acknowledges this. They hired marketing agency 72andSunny to help convey this message in these new ads. Some of the new 15 second ads are below, others can be viewed here.
Matthew McCarthy, senior director of Axe and men’s grooming for Unilever stated, “If you look at all the vignettes in the campaign, it really represents a tremendous spectrum of masculinity. That includes personal attributes like hair, nose, body type, clothing type and lifestyle. We want to make it clear it doesn’t matter how you define masculinity, which is very different than some of the storytelling we’ve done in the past.”
Again…fantastic message and outlook within their new “go forward” strategy. Here is the new commercial.
Great commercial and it answers the call of needing more imagery of regular complex (non-hyper masculine) men in media. The cook in the pizzeria and the two guys in the record/book store were my favorite.
At the 18 second mark the narrator says “on fire as you rock those heels”, while feminine men in high-heels wearing female attire, vogue and fall out on the floor. This section of the ad is what got the gay community singing praises for this new ad campaign. The joy is in that they are being “included”.
Carlo Cavallone, executive creative director of 72andSunny Amsterdam said, “There’s not one single-minded, one dimensional idea of masculinity out there. We wanted to make it as inclusive as possible. We wanted to give to guys a sense of confidence and liberate them from stereotypical bullshit about what it means to be a man. The ads aim to show the diversity of masculinity without becoming a sociological study or losing a sense of fun or irony.”
To me there is always this lingering essence within the conversation of expanding or relaxing masculinity to make it more traditionally feminine…just for the sake of inclusion. If a man wearing women’s cloths and accessories is masculine then what is feminine? Are we on the cusp of advising that free and true masculinity should include males presenting themselves as women is just a different form of masculinity?
Examining masculinity or bucking traditional masculine norms shouldn’t morph into femininity. They both have their valuable separate spaces and intersections…but they are not the same.
Feminine men are men. Their manhood is as important and relevant to the discussion on maleness as any masculine man’s. Nonetheless femininity is not masculinity. Regardless of how we want the spectrum to slide or blur to cater to sensibilities.