Case study: Axe body spray thinks comics readers need sexy scent


If you’ve watched any male-targeted TV programming in the last five years, you know that it only takes one squirt of Axe body spray to turn the pudgiest sportsbar refugee into a rampaging sex god with the ladies. And now the cologne company has decided to turn to the comics audience with an interactive graphic novel. YOU can view the idea for Axe Anarchy in the above video — basically normal looking schlubs and super hot women in the Brokeback pose. But all can contribute!

Social Times reported that the fans can shape the story by voting to cast the final Anarchy girl and making suggestions as far as where the action should take place.

Axe, which promotes its line of men’s products as the secret to getting any woman, shouldn’t expect AdWeek among its fans.

“It’s the first crowdsourced soft-porn fantasy adventure in comic format!” proclaimed the publication as it criticizes Axe for its objectification of women.

201201050121 Case study: Axe body spray thinks comics readers need sexy scent

While this is what you would expect from the Axe brand, their overall marketing strategy is an amazing example of advertising through psychology, as this excerpt from the book Brandwashed reports. Unilever, the company behand Axe, carried out extensive marketing studies to find out how to market to the lonely man searching for a mate:

Unilever accompanied roughly 100 males (identical studies were later carried out across other European countries, North America, and Latin America) ages 15 to 50 to the pubs until three or four in the morning and (soberly, while secretly taking copious notes) watched them in action. After poring over their pages and pages of notes, via a process known in the industry as “segmentation,” the Unilever team isolated six psychological profiles of the male animal — and the potential Axe user: the Predator, the Natural Talent, the Marriage-Material Guy, Always the Friend, the Insecure Novice, and the Enthusiastic Novice.


Targeting the Insecure Novice and Enthusiastic Novice with their ads, Unilever experienced wild success, as hopeful barhoppers flocked to the spray as voraciously as the girls in the Axe ads and making it the #1 men’s fragrance brand. However, the imaging actually backfired:

The problem was, the ads had worked too well in persuading the Insecure Novices and Enthusiastic Novices to buy the product. Geeks and dorks everywhere were now buying Axe by the caseload, and it was hurting the brand’s image. Eventually (in the United States, at least), to most high-school and college-age males, Axe had essentially become the brand for pathetic losers and, not surprisingly, sales took a huge hit.

Then Axe faced another big problem. Insecure high-school students had been so convincingly persuaded that Axe would make them sexually appealing that they began completely dousing themselves in it. According to CBC News, “Some boys have been dousing themselves in Axe, apparently believing commercials that show a young man applying the deodorant and being immediately hit on by beautiful women.” It got to the point where the students were reeking so heavily of it that it was becoming a distraction at school. So much so that in Minnesota, school- district officials attempted to ban it, claiming that “the man spray has been abused, and the aerosol stench is a hazard for students and faculty.”


We haven’t seen Unilever’s marketing study for the interactive soft core graphic novel….but it sure would be interesting reading, wouldn’t it?

Comments

  1. Oh great. Now Comic Con will smell of sweat, hair gel, desperation AND Axe body spray!

    Will someone please call Irish Spring and Arrid Extra Dry and tell them we have a target demo for them?

    Please?

  2. You can make comics in real time now? Damn, spent all my money on that hypertime portal for nothing!

  3. Steve Rotterdam says:

    This campaign does not seek to make inroads with comics fans as much as it does with Axe’s general target of young males. It borrows – or exploits, if you will – what (in my opinion) Axe thinks is mainstream culture’s idea of what’s cool about comics. While I think that any brand recognizing the power and appeal of comics is good for the industry as a whole, with the right guidance and a little planning (are you lisening, Unilever?) this promotion could have had substantially more impact and credibility among target consumers both within and outside comic culture. But that would have required Axe to back off somewhat from their arguably sexist platform, a platform that, frankly, has worked and continues to work for the brand.

    Oh, and Bill? Already done!

  4. Snikt Snakt says:

    this can only HELP geekdom, not hurt it!!!

  5. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    1.) I’d rather see Degree(works much better than Axe and less smelly) do it, but Axe beat them to the punch. well the public perception of comics is either hyper sexualized mainstream, “quirky” twenty-something hipster indie, or weird and inept Otakus/Weeabos. i know it sux right?

    2.) Thats not a comic, it’s a animatic!!! Motion “Comics” why wont you die?!

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    So that’s what desperation smells like.

    Which agency produced the spot?

    From Adweek:
    “The comics industry is an excellent fit for Axe. It’s one of the few places where the objectification of women rivals that of the brand’s commercials. And getting to blame the readers for the comic’s nonsensical, masturbatory plot is so brilliant that the comics industry needs to copy this campaign.”

    Ouch.

  7. It would have been easier — and probably more interesting — to make a comic-themed commercial. I’m not planning to read a graphic novel planned around an antiperspirant. These people should have learned their lesson from Milhouse when he stocked up on Biclops.

  8. Synsidar says:

    Which agency produced the spot?

    Razorfish is doing the Axe promo.

    SRS

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