When Axe became a big thing in the U.S. markets in the 2010’s (it came to the US in 2002), they marketed their product exclusively to men. Men who are or who want to be the manly-man, the girl-magnet, the hot-stuff. Their commercials and print ads were cheeky but all sent the same overall message – use our products, and the women will be unable to control themselves and be instantly attracted to you. Take a look at some of their earlier advertising in this vein.
In fact, some of their advertisements have been banned in the U.S. and some I opted not to place in here because they are a bit overt. This was their go-to formula for the better part of the decade but as a sign of the times, this manly-man company not only started offering a product for women (although they defaulted to pink colors), but their commercials started to change as well.
In 2016, they released the “Find Your Magic” video spot and started a campaign for the products to show that men do not need to fit into a specific mold to be seen as desirable. The standard marketing image of a chiseled body – in fact, the commercial starts immediately with scoffing at the very concept – doesn’t necessarily win everyone’s interest and, as such, the ad goes on to illustrate that men come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, personalities, and sexualities. While the commercial still focuses on the external elements of attracting someone they did include diversity in their minute-long spot. Other than not being a strictly white-washed video by including people of color, a handi-capable person, and but they also included a man dancing and “rock those heels” and seem to infer a “match” between two guys at the old record store. While it could have gone a bit further with including a wider variety of non-white guys, it was a great first start.
They took it even a step further this year with their campaign “Is It Ok For Guys” that handles a huge list of questions that men may be considering but aren’t always able to voice or express because that’s not “How a real man should behave.” The spot opens up with a startling statistic that 72% of men have been told how a “real man” should behave (based on The Man Box Study) and this is something we hear constantly in our society. Beyond asinine comments like “Man up,” or “Grow some balls,” (you can read more about that particular topic in my other post Man-Up Mannerisms and Expectations) men are told constantly how society wants them to present, behave, and think. Axe has clapped back at this standard with their newest video addressing body images, appearances, sexualities, anxieties, emotions, hobbies, and more and how it can be overwhelming but, ultimately, that it’s okay to just be you.
While they haven’t touched on any trans-related matter, they’ve made a big jump from their macho-man approach just a few years before. They’re responding to public opinion and the wave of the future. For a company that has a product line that was, until very recently, exclusively for men and presenting straight men attracting pretty women by using their product they’ve made a bold move. Not only have they started to realize that men are very diverse they’re also starting to realize women aren’t slaves to their hormones.
I look forward to seeing both trans men and trans women in future ads now that they have a line dedicated to women. What would be truly fantastic to see is a blending of the two lines (perhaps a purple theme?) where men use the women’s line and women use the men’s line, because it’s more about what that individual enjoys and feels more comfortable with and what makes them happiest. The fragrance is an extension of ourselves and sometimes women like a more “masculine” scent while men like a more “feminine” scent. Seeing trans men represented in their men’s line and trans women in their women’s line would be exciting, but seeing the lines of gender blur entirely would be ground-breaking.