The latest ad campaign by Axe Body Spray is making a big move in a different direction from the messaging the company has used in the past.
Axe’s new campaign, created by 72andSunny Amsterdam, takes a pretty inclusive and progressive approach to Axe’s target demographic of young men. With its “Find Your Magic” ad, Axe casts a positive light on individuality, and makes a point of bucking traditional ideas of masculinity.
“There’s not one single-minded, one dimensional idea of masculinity out there,” Carlo Cavallone, executive creative director of 72andSunny Amsterdam, told Ad Age. “We wanted to make it as inclusive as possible. We wanted to give to guys a sense of confidence and liberate them from stereotypical bullsh*t about what it means to be a man.”
In a big way, Axe may well be doing for men what campaigns like Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel are trying to do for women: buck the societal trends of body image and “normal” that often work to exclude many people who don’t fit those stereotypes. The upshot for Axe is, of course, that more representational ads tend to be better received by potential customers — which leads to more customers.
But Axe’s move is also one that can have a positive benefit in general, as it works to destigmatize people that representation in ads usually leave behind. And the move is significant given Axe’s past: its ads have focused on a very traditional, “frat boy”-esque idea of masculinity. Many of the jokes in Axe’s old ads were about how its products would help men get with women, and they could often come off as sexist; at the very least, they mostly only appealed to straight men.
There are a lot more men in the world than just those who fit into one category, however. Axe’s campaign with 72andSunny Amsterdam recognizes that because it makes good business sense — it goes a step further by being one that’s positive and empowering.